Palestine on knife edge as settler mobs threaten to storm haram-al-sharif

By Al-Qalam and Agencies

With the Occupied Palestinian territories already on a knife’s edge following the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, Jewish settler groups are stoking the flames again by planning a “flag march” through the Old City of Jerusalem this Sunday and threatening to storm the noble Haram-al Sharif complex on which Al-Aqsa sits.

But Palestinians have vowed to resist any attempts to violate the sanctity of Haram-al-Sharif by the settler mobs.

On Wednesday, Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Barlev and Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai approved the march to pass through Jerusalem’s Old City.

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According to the Barlev-approved plan, marchers will walk along Jaffa Street to Damascus Gate, where access will be blocked for Palestinians. They will continue into the Old City through Hagai Street in the Muslim Quarter and finish at the Western Wall.

Barlev’s announcement sparked controversy in the Israeli coalition, with left-wing lawmakers attacking the decision, saying it risked causing an escalation with Palestinian groups.

The decision to allow the flag march, especially amidst heightened tensions following the cold- blooded assassination by Zionist forces of Abu Akleh outside the Jenin Refugee camp, drew an immediate response from Hamas, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh has warned Israel against allowing the flag march by the settlers in occupied East Jerusalem.

“We follow the threats of storming Al-Aqsa complex and we warn the enemy against taking such moves,” Haniyeh said in a televised speech marking the first anniversary of an 11-day Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip.

Haniyeh added that Hamas “will not allow any desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque or settler arrogance in Jerusalem.”

The Hamas leader called on the Palestinians “to protect Al-Aqsa Mosque and prevent settlers from moving ahead with their plans” against the mosque.

Hamas said by allowing the flag march through the Muslim quarter of the Old City was akin to “adding fuel to the fire”.

“I want to clearly warn the enemy against committing these crimes and taking these steps. The Palestinian people, led by the resistance – especially those in the West Bank and Jerusalem – will not permit this Jewish, Talmudic rubbish to go unanswered,” said Haniyeh.

“Our decision is clear and unhesitating… we will resist with all our capabilities and we will not permit the violation of the Al-Aqsa Mosque or thuggery in the streets of Jerusalem,” he added.

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement calling an Israeli court ruling for the march to go-ahead “a grave assault against the historic status quo … and a flagrant challenge to international law”.

Right wing Israelis hold the annual flag march through the Old City to mark its capture by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. Israel later annexed Occupied East Jerusalem, a move not recognized by most of the international community. The event is resented by Palestinians, who want the Old City and other parts of occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of their hoped-for future state.

The Haram-al Sharif complex where the Al-Aqsa Mosque is located is the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims, but Jews refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Last year, settlers staged their march through the Damascus Gate, known as Bab al-Amud area and one of Jerusalem’s Old City gates amid anti-Arab chants.

In May 2021, Israeli violations inside Al-Aqsa Mosque and in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem triggered the break-out of an Israeli military offensive on Gaza.

More than 200 Palestinians were killed and thousands injured in the onslaught, which came to a halt under an Egyptian-brokered truce. Thirteen Israelis were also killed in Palestinian fire from Gaza during the course of the conflict.

Academic and seasoned Palestinian activist, Dr Lubna Nadvi condemned the provocation by the settlers to threaten any storming of the Haram-al-Sharif compound. She told Al Qalam that continued Zionist provocations that follows one after another does not auger well for peace.

She said as South African Muslims, any defense of the Al-Aqsa compound by the brave Palestinian resisters would be supported.

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