Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, the Imam of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, warned Israel on Friday against “harming” the mosque.
Sabri, head of the Supreme Muslim Council, declared in a conversation with a Gaza-based news agency that Al-Aqsa was a “red line” for Arabs, adding, “We will not give up even one grain of earth (at the Al-Aqsa Mosque), since the Jews have no connection to it whatsoever.”
“Al-Quds (Jerusalem -ed.) is a deposit for the Muslims, and the issue of Al-Aqsa is similar to that of the mosque in Mecca and the Mosque of the Prophet (Muhammad) in Medina, and it is not only in the hands of the inhabitants of Palestine, but in the hands of all Arabs and Muslims,” he added.
Sabri placed the blame on any “harm to the sanctity” of Al-Aqsa on the Israeli government, saying that “the daily break-ins by the settlers” into the mosque place it in a dangerous and uncertain position.
These alleged “break-ins”, he claimed, aim to impose a new reality while “provoking the feelings of two billion Muslims” worldwide.
Sabri’s comments are just the latest in a series of accusations that Arab leaders level at Israel concerning the Temple Mount and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Arabs continuously accuse Israel of “Judaizing” the Temple Mount, sometimes resorting to illogical accusations, such as saying that Israel is using chemicals to erode the foundations of the mosque in order to cause it to collapse.
Some Palestinian Authority (PA) officials have claimed that Israel was trying to build a new Holy Temple on the Temple Mount, replacing the Al-Aqsa Mosque. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas himself has made claims to this effect.
The reality is that it is Jews, not Arabs, who are discriminated against when they want to visit the Temple Mount.
Israeli police, in an attempt to appease the Muslim Waqf which was left in charge of the compound after the 1967 Six Day War, ban Jews from praying or performing any other form of worship. Police sometimes close the Mount to Jews altogether in response to Muslim riots – for days or weeks at a time – despite evidence that such violence is usually planned in advance for the specific purpose of forcing Jews out.
The Waqf, meanwhile, works to remove any Jewish presence on the Mount and consistently destroys Jewish antiquities on the compound in a direct violation of a ruling by the Supreme Court.
Most recently, the Waqf issued a pamphlet that makes argues, among other things, that King Solomon was a Muslim and that there is no Jewish connection to either the Temple Mount or the Western Wall (Kotel).