Thursday’s shutdown of Masjidul- Aqsa should not be seen in isolation of Israel’s continued occupation, says Al Quds Foundation president Maulana Igsaan Hendricks. While Masjidul Aqsa has been a flashpoint of violence in recent weeks, Thursday reached a turning point for the history of Islam’s thirds most holiest site when Israeli authorities shut the compound down for the first time in decades.
Palestinian authorities quickly responded to the move, saying it was a “dangerous and blatant challenge”. Hendricks believes this is the “second phase” of Israel’s division of the holy site.
“We are experiencing sensitive times in the occupation of the Zionist in the city of Al Quds and Masjidul Aqsa. This is a sad day but it is not in isolation from the programme that Zionist began from 1967 when they intensified the occupation on Masjidul Aqsa. Now begins the next step where they physically divide Masjidul Aqsa in two. That sends a dangerous message to the Muslim world,” Hendricks told VOC News on Thursday.
Clashes erupted between Israeli security forces and Palestinian youth in East Jerusalem after a gunman on a motorcycle shot and seriously wounded a far-right rabbi on Wednesday. Israel announced the shutdown of Al-Aqsa mosque following the shooting of Yehuda Glick.
Hendricks said it would be “devastating” if the international Muslim community stood aside quietly while the “Zionist tyranny” and the occupation continues on Masijdul Aqsa.
“We salute the Palestinian people who are in the forefront of the defence against the occupation. We have seen the resilient spirit of the women in Palestine, whose dedication is almost equivalent to the strength of a thousand men as they stand up against the Israeli occupation everyday,” Hendricks added.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was quoted as saying that Israel’s clampdown is “a declaration of war” on the Palestinian people and its sacred places. He further warned Jews to steer clear of the site and also called on Palestinians to guard the compound.
Hendricks responded to the comments from President Abbas by saying that it is not the exclusive responsibility of the Palestinian people to defend the compound.
“The responsibility remains on the international community to ensure that we move speedily toward the liberation of Masjidul Aqsa and the Occupied Territories of Palestine,” Hendricks urged.
“We repeat our call to the imams, Islamic organisations and peace loving South Africans to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community and Christian community equally experiencing the grip of Israeli occupation. We call on Imams to raise awareness during their Friday Khutbah’s.” VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)