Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asserted on Sunday night that Israel and “its settlers” are committing daily “attacks and violations” at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, which he said constitute a “red line.”
The remarks came during a visit to Ramallah by former Palestinian guards at the holy site, as well as by the Fatah movement’s secretary in Jerusalem, Adnan Ghaith, the official PA news agency Wafa reported.
Abbas said the Al-Aqsa guards play a “great role in in defending our holy sites” from the “abusive and violating measures taken by the occupation.”
“The blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque is a red line and we will not accept any infringement on it,” he added.
The Temple Mount, on which the Al-Aqsa Mosque is located, is sanctified by Jews as the place where the Jewish temples stood in biblical times.
Tensions at the tinderbox site have been one of the main catalysts for the current round of Palestinian violence in Israel and the West Bank, in which 33 Israelis and three foreign nationals have been killed since October. Some 200 Palestinians have also been killed, about two-thirds of them while attacking Israelis and the rest during clashes with troops, according to the Israeli army.
The Palestinian leadership has long accused Israel of trying to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, an accusation Israel vehemently denies.
In early march, Abbas accused Israel of attempting to “judaize” the Temple Mount. And in November, he said he had cautioned against “violations committed by the settlers and extremists under the protection of the Israeli occupying forces against the sanctity of Christian and Muslim holy places in Jerusalem, particularly aimed at changing the historic status quo at Al-Haram Al-Sharif [the Temple Mount] and Al-Aqsa Mosque that existed before the year 1967 and thereafter.”
In one well-known comment made in September 2015 that was later criticized by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Abbas said Jews were sullying the Temple Mount “with their filthy feet.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report