Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, Skeikh Mohammad Hussein
Khateeb, warned that any attack by extremist Jewish groups against the
Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem could lead the area into a new wave of

The statements of Khateeb came after an Israeli members of Knesset, National Union Faction chairman, Uri Ariel, visited the Al Aqsa Mosque along with his bodyguards.

Ariel said that the Mosque “referred to as Temple Mount”, is the center and the “heart of the Jewish people”. The Al Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Suadi Arabia.

He added that even if the Muslims are marking the holy month of Ramadan, Jews must visit the area.

“On Succot – as on Passover and Shavuot – there is a Torah commandment to visit the holy site”, Ariel stated.

Israeli sources reported that “Ariel plans to construct a shul on the Temple Mount”.

The plan, according to the Israeli national News website,  will be submitted to the Jerusalem municipality and the Committee for Design and Construction for approval.

Ariel said that the construction of the shul in the mosque area “will be the opportunity for Muslims to show their tolerance toward other faiths”.

Sheikh Khateeb slammed the visit describing it as provocative especially since he was surrounding by dozens of armed troops.

Khateeb held the Israeli government responsible of any further deterioration in the situation in the area and said that these visits and Israeli procedures are increasing tension among the Palestinians who are being barred from entering the mosque during Ramadan while extremist Jewish groups have easy access.

He called on the Arabs and Muslims to head to the mosque in order to protect it from the extremist groups in Israel that aim to demolish it. He also called on Arab leaders to defend the mosque and the holy sites in Palestine.

The Al Aqsa Intifada inflamed in late September 2000 after the then-prime minister, Ariel Sharon, entered the mosque area with his armored bodyguards.

* Shul: The Orthodox and Chasidim typically use the word "shul," which is Yiddish. It is derived from a German word meaning "school," and emphasizes the synagogue's role as a place of study. Conservative Jews usually use the word "synagogue," which is actually a Greek translation of Beit K'nesset and means "place of assembly".