Hamas protesters in Gaza call to ‘defend’ Temple Mount

Islamist group says ‘dangerous level of Judaization’ taking place in Jerusalem

A Hamas flag seen at the Aqsa children's festival on the Temple Mount in  Jerusalem's Old City. April 06, 2013 (Photo credit: Sliman Khader/FLASH90)
A Hamas flag seen at the Aqsa children's festival on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City. April 06, 2013 (Photo credit: Sliman Khader/FLASH90)

Hamas organized a demonstration in Gaza City on Friday to call for the defense of the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and the alleged “threats” posed to the site by Israel.

Hamas leader Ismail Radwan warned against a “dangerous level of Judaization” of Jerusalem and the mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

“Al-Aqsa is a red line: Israel must be aware that the ongoing raids and attacks on al-Aqsa will cause a volcanic explosion in the area that will reach Israel,” he said, according to Palestinian news agency Ma’an, adding that Palestinian worshipers in Jerusalem should defend the site.

The Temple Mount houses the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque, and is revered by Jews as the location of the biblical Jewish temples, considered Judaism’s holiest place.

Radwan also called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to stop the security coordination with Israel in the West Bank.

According to Ma’an, similar protests in the West Bank were suppressed by PA security forces.

On Thursday, Hamas leader in exile Khaled Mashaal accused Israel of trying to take over al-Aqsa Mosque.

Mashaal, who lives in the Qatari capital of Doha, said that Israel was trying to take advantage of the crises in Syria and Iraq to assert control over the site.

The Temple Mount compound has seen numerous violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police over the past several weeks, as tensions boiled over during the Jewish High Holidays, during which Jewish worshipers flock to Jerusalem to pray at the Western Wall below the Temple Mount.

Three policemen were injured Wednesday during protests against restrictions on Muslim worship at the mosque. Police used stun grenades as a crowd of about 400 people gathered near the entrance to the mosque, an AFP photographer reported.

On Monday morning, Israel Police forces surrounded the al-Aqsa mosque and entered the plaza atop the Temple Mount after receiving information that Palestinian activists had gathered stones and set barbed wire obstacles in preparation for planned attacks against Jewish visitors to the site.

Upon entering the site, police were met with rocks, firebombs and fireworks, which were hurled at them by the protesters, Israel Radio reported. The rioters were then pushed back into the mosque. Police removed multiple obstacles at the site, including stretches of barbed wire, and it was finally opened to non-Muslim visitors at 7:30 a.m.

The simmering tensions prompted UN Secretary General Bank Ki-moon to say he was “deeply concerned by repeated provocations at the holy sites in Jerusalem,” which “inflame tensions and must stop.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday blamed “Palestinian extremists” for the repeated clashes at the contested site.

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