Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday that Israeli settlers living in the Occupied West Bank have no right to “desecrate” the Al-Aqsa mosque. He suggested that they should be prevented from entering the site in East Jerusalem, which also houses Temple Mount -- the holiest site in Judaism -- according to local media reports.
“It is our sacred place, Al-Aqsa is ours, this noble sanctuary is ours. They have no right to go there and desecrate it,” Abbas reportedly said, adding that the “settlers” should be prevented from entering the site “by any means.”
Abbas also urged the Palestinians living in the West Bank to defend the Al-Aqsa mosque -- the third holiest site in Islam -- calling it the “jewel in the crown… of the Palestinian state.”
“It is important for the Palestinians to be united in order to protect Jerusalem,” he reportedly said. “Without it, there will not be a state.”
Abbas’ comments come at a time when there has been a significant increase in violence in towns and villages around East Jerusalem. The latest clashes over the site, which has been a major focal point for conflicts in the past, began on Monday after Israeli forces reportedly attempted to bar Palestinian worshippers below the age of 50 from entering the site. Protesters also alleged that Jewish worshippers were being given unimpeded access to the site to celebrate the festival of Sukkot.
Earlier on Friday, Hamas organized a protest march in the Gaza Strip and urged Palestinians to defend the Al-Aqsa mosque from the “threats” posed by Israel, according to a report by Ma’an News Agency, a Palestinian publication.
“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,” Senior Hamas leader Ismail Radwan reportedly said, addressing a crowd of supporters in Gaza.