Israeli Settlers Storm Al-Aqsa Mosque and UNESCO Will Vote on Israeli Violations

Israeli settlers on early Sunday morning broke into Muslims’ the holy al-Aqsa Mosque. 18 Israeli settlers stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque via the Maghareba Gate at around 7:30 a.m. Israeli police troops and special units escorted the Israeli assailants all the way through the break-in.

The peaceful Muslim worshipers kept chanting “Allah is the Greatest” in protest at the sacrilegious assault. The Maghareba Gate—one of the al-Aqsa gates from which Israeli settlers have often broken into the site—had been closed during the last 12 days of Ramadan and the first days of the holy Eid festival.

At least 1,357 Israeli settlers and soldiers stormed the al-Aqsa place of worship in June. 67 Muslim worshipers from different nationalities were left injured by Israeli bullet fire and teargas canisters as they maintained vigil at the Qibli Mosque (at al-Aqsa compound) during holy Ramadan.

Israeli settler gangs also called for mass break-ins at the holy al-Aqsa Mosque next Tuesday to mourn the Israeli settlers who died in the Jerusalem Intifada.

On the other hand, The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will reportedly vote on a draft concerning Israeli military violations in occupied East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, according to Israeli media.

Ynet news reported that the joint Jordanian-Palestinian draft would be voted on during the 40th annual session meeting of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, which began in Istanbul on Sunday, and will last ten days.

The document reportedly accuses Israel of “misconduct” on the compound, citing “deliberate vandalism” and damage to Muslim holy sites, which Israel’s foreign ministry reportedly called “malicious and dishonest.”
However, the website of the World Heritage Committee meeting in Istanbul did not mention that a vote related to the Al-Aqsa compound was on the agenda. A UNESCO spokesperson was not immediately available for comment on the issue.

A similar resolution was passed in April when the World Heritage Committee unilaterally condemned “Israeli aggressions and illegal measures against the freedom of worship and Muslims’ access to their Holy Site Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al Sharif.”

The resolution deplored the “continuous storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif by the Israeli right-wing extremists and uniformed forces,” and urged Israel, which it called “the Occupying Power,” to take necessary measures to “prevent provocative abuses that violate the sanctity and integrity” of the holy site.

It is also venerated as Judaism’s most holy place, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, and some Jewish extremists have called for the destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque so as to build a Third Temple in its place.

Because of the sensitive nature of the Al-Aqsa compound, Israel maintains a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls it to not allow non-Muslim prayers in the area. However, Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, in an attempt to challenge the status quo and leading to tensions with Palestinian worshipers.

Similar to the one passed in April, the current proposed draft also reportedly calls on Israel to restore the “historic status quo that prevailed until September 2000, under which the Jordanian Waqf (Religious Foundation) Department exercised exclusive authority on Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif,” including maintenance, restoration, and regulating access.

Ynet also quoted an Israeli Foreign Ministry statement as saying that the Jordanian-Palestinian proposed draft was “another malicious and dishonest attempt to harm Israel’s affinity with its capital,” continuing that “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the nation of Israel and of Israel’s alone,” an affirmation not recognized by the international community.

Despite the passing of the resolution in April, tensions at Al-Aqsa have remained high since, as right-wing Israelis toured the site for the Jewish Passover holiday, which saw the banning of some 70 Palestinians from the site, several Israeli extremists evacuated, and weekly visits for Palestinians from the Gaza Strip suspended for two consecutive weeks.

Palestinians from Gaza and the occupied West Bank have been subjected to punitive measures in recent months, as Israel froze thousands of permits that were issued in order to allow Palestinian citizens to travel into occupied East Jerusalem to attend prayers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Multiple incidents of extremist Israeli settlers touring the compound were reported over the course of the Muslim holy month, which ended last week, with its final ten days marked by violent clashes between Israeli forces and Muslim worshipers, resulting in dozens of injuries and arrests.