Palestinian MK visits Aqsa, settlers attempt prayers at compound (Photo : Maan)
Palestinian MK visits Aqsa, settlers attempt prayers at compound (Photo : Maan)

Al-Quds, 16 Muharram 1437/29 October 2015 (MINA) – Palestinian Member of the Knesset Bassel Ghattas entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound Wednesday as Israeli right-wingers attempted to pray in the area.

MK Ghattas entered the compound despite an order by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu preventing all Knesset members and ministers from entering the holy site for any purpose.Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, the director of the mosque compound, told Ma’an that Israeli police attempted to prevent the MK from touring the compound, but he refused.

MK Ghattas is expected to discuss Netanyahu’s plan to install surveillance cameras at the compound during a Knesset speech later today.A Knesset committee agreed to hear an appeal from Ghattas after the Knesset’s initial refusal — by a 7 to 2 vote to include the case on this week’s agenda. Maan News Agency reported.

During the appeal session Ghattas said that the decision to install cameras at the Al-Aqsa Mosque was made with the intention of securing Israeli control over the holy site, as the cameras would be installed and controlled by Israel.

The MK added that installing cameras would make tracking down and detaining Palestinian worshipers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque easier.Ghattas said that the Islamic Endowment had attempted to install surveillance cameras at the Moroccan Gate leading to the compound but was prevented by Israeli police, “which reveals the real intentions behind the step.

“Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told Ma’an at the time that Israeli police prevented the camera installations because an official agreement concerning their installation had not yet been reached.He said that police would “not allow any changes whatsoever to the status quo on the Temple Mount,” using the Jewish name for the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

“Any government changes or decisions made will happen in an organized way and in coordination with all relevant parties,” he said.Separately on Wednesday, a group of Israeli right-wingers entered the compound and attempted to perform prayers after an organization, Return to the Mount, announced that any Jew arrested from the compound for performing prayers would be rewarded 2,000 shekels ($515).

The organization’s “Arrest and Win” project was launched Tuesday in opposition to Netanyahu’s efforts to maintain the “status quo” at the holy site.

The Islamic Endowment told Ma’an that guards at Al-Aqsa prevented a group of Israelis from performing prayers at the al-Rahma Gate during a tour of the compound.Israeli police meanwhile denied entry to a group of Palestinian women who have been black-listed from the mosque compound. The group has staged ongoing sit-in protests at gates leading to the holy site.

Tensions have flared at Al-Aqsa in recent months, with many Palestinians fearing that Israel wishes to renege on a longstanding agreement preventing non-Muslim prayer in the compound.

During a meeting last week, Netanyahu told Kerry that the Palestinian Authority must issue a statement clarifying that Israel has not changed the “status quo” at the Al-Aqsa.Jews are currently allowed to visit the mosque compound, but cannot pray there under an agreement made between Israel and the Islamic trust that controls the compound following Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.

Large numbers of right-wing Jews toured the compound during a succession of Jewish holidays in September, which increased restrictions were placed on Palestinian entrance to the area. The events contributed to unrest that has swept the occupied Palestinian territory this month. (T/P002/R03)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)