Palestinians refuse an attempt by Israeli police to enter a mosque in al-Aqsa Compound. Israeli police besieged the mosque for six hours and arrested four Palestinians.
On Monday, January 14, 2019, Palestinians worshippers closed the doors to the Dome of the Rock Mosque and barricaded themselves inside of it in protest of Israeli police activity at al-Aqsa Compound in Jerusalem.
The Middle East Monitor reports that the protest erupted after an Israeli police officer attempted to enter the Dome of the Rock Mosque while wearing a kippah.
“The Dome of the Rock guards asked the policeman to remove his kippah before entering the mosque, but he refused and insisted on entering by force. The guards closed the mosque’s gates and sealed themselves inside as the police waited outside to arrest them,” said Firas al-Dibs, spokesperson for the Islamic Waqf.
During the siege, Palestinians staged a sit-in in the yard of the Mosque. Israeli police pushed the protesting worshippers. Director of the Mosque Sheikh Omar Al Kiswani was lightly wounded. When the afternoon call to prayer was sounded, Israeli forces withdrew and Palestinian worshippers streamed into the Mosque. The siege lasted for a total of six hours, reports the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, and at least four Islamic Waqf guards were arrested.
Israeli authorities released the four guards from detention later that day with orders to stay away from al-Aqsa for one week and report back to the Israeli police on Sunday.
The next day, Tuesday, January 15, Israeli police summoned al-Dibs for interrogation. Israeli police arrested Al-Dibs earlier this month.
The Wadi Hilweh Information Center reports that on Wednesday and Thursday Israeli settlers toured al-Aqsa compound with the protection of Israeli police.
The Islamic Waqf is responsible for maintaining al-Aqsa’s “status quo,” an agreement reached between Israel and Jordan following the 1967 Israeli occupation of Jerusalem. The agreement stipulates that al-Aqsa is reserved for Muslims worship, though people of other religions may visit the holy site as a sightseeing activity. Palestinians and Waqf officials warn that Israeli settler and police incursions are a step toward unilaterally changing the political status quo of al-Aqsa and occupied Jerusalem.
Ahmad Jaradat is Senior Project Coordinator for the Alternative Information Center (AIC).