23 June 2020

Muslim officials in al-Quds have warned that Israel is on the verge of changing the long-observed status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem as a Muslim-only place of prayer.

Ikrima Sabri, former Mufti of Jerusalem and current head of the Higher Islamic Council, said in a statement that the Islamic Waqf, which is in charge of Al-Aqsa Mosque, is beginning to lose control over the Muslim holy compound, particularly its Bab al-Rahma area east of the compound, where Israel prevents Muslims from praying or even being in that area.

The Islamic Waqf said in a statement that Israeli police arrest of five women who were present at Bab al-Rahma prayer area and a mosque guard who intervened on the women’s behalf, as well as entry of the Israeli police into that carpeted prayer area with their boots on, “aims at changing the long-observed historic, religious and legal status quo at the Mosque.”

Sabri said the situation at the Mosque is very serious, explaining that Israel has been plotting to turn Bab al-Rahma, also known as the Golden Gate, a gate that leads into Al-Aqsa Mosque compound shut with stones, into a Jewish place of prayer. However, when people resisted this and insisted on being present at Bab al-Rahma, the police started to ban many people, including himself, from being inside the Mosque compound for several months at a time.

He expressed fear that Israel is going to take advantage of the current unstable situation in the Arab world in order to implement its plans at Al-Aqsa.

The Islamic Waqf department said Al-Aqsa Mosque’s 144-dunum walled area is a purely Islamic site and that it does not accept partitioning or sharing it with any non-Muslim.

Muslims fear that Israel is encouraging Jewish fundamentalist groups to increase their presence at Al-Aqsa Mosque, and particularly at Bab al-Rahma area, in an effort to eventually turn it into a Jewish prayer area and start the process of dividing Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslim and Jewish worshippers.

They noticed that a growing number of Jewish fundamentalists have been holding rituals during their so-called visit of Al-Aqsa compound in violation of standing rules that ban any non-Muslim from holding religious ritual inside Al-Aqsa compound.