Following on from the Friday’s deadly shooting at Masjid al-Aqsa during which two Israeli police men, and three Palestinians were killed, Masjid al-Aqsa was closed off for Friday prayers.
The closure has continued on Saturday, in what appears to be a form of collective punishment against all Palestinians and international visitors to the city.
‘We offer our condolences to the families of those killed. The occupation of Palestine is the central catalyst to the cycle of violence and Israel must end it to bring an end to the bloodshed. Closing access to Al-Aqsa sanctuary will be seen as another form of collective punishment by Israel. The closure is inexplicable and access must be restored as a matter of urgency’ said Ismail Patel, Chair of Friends of Al-Aqsa.
Ismail added, ‘Extreme right wing Israeli politicians are using the shooting as a guise to further their own agenda of wrestling control of Al-Aqsa from the Palestinians.’
Palestinian imams of Masjid al Aqsa have been forced to hold prayers in the streets around the compound in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Mufti of Jerusalem, Shaykh Hussein was also arrested for attempting to enter al-Aqsa.
While Israeli deaths as a result of the occupation are widely reported globally, Palestinian deaths remain grossly under-reported. Israeli officers in Jerusalem operate a shoot to kill policy against any civilian who is deemed to pose a ‘threat’ regardless of how well protected the police and soldiers are, and the relative ease with which they could diffuse situations without the use of deadly violence.
FOA has written to the UK Foreign Office and requested an urgent meeting to discuss the situation in Jerusalem and the UK government’s response.