Israel is to blame for any potential escalation, according to Jordan, which denounces incursions.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem‘s occupied territory was stormed by hundreds of Israeli settlers and nationalists on Sunday, preventing Palestinians from entering the location. Large groups of Israelis visited the courtyards of Al-Aqsa beginning at 7:30am local time to observe the Jewish holiday of Passover, shielded by dozens of heavily armed police officers.
Israeli forces attacked Palestinians who attempted to arrive at the location overnight to pray at dawn and barred entry to worshipers under the age of 40. In preparation for the massive Israeli incursions, they also cleaned up the Old City, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque is situated.
Local estimates indicate that only 30,000 Palestinians managed to attend the Ramadan Taraweeh night prayer on Saturday, down from as many as 130,000 who did so on earlier nights this month. Many Muslims secured themselves in the Qibli petition lobby – the structure with the silver arch – on Saturday night, to keep away from Israeli endeavors to eliminate them from the mosque.
It comes after worshippers inside the Qibli mosque were repeatedly assaulted by Israeli forces last week in an effort to remove them, resulting in international condemnation. Jordan, the Jerusalem custodian of Christian and Islamic sites, condemned the raids on Sunday and attributed them to Israel.
The Jordanian foreign minister issued a statement in which he stated, “We condemn the massive incursions into the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque under the tight protection of the Israeli occupation police, which constitutes a breach of the existing historical and legal status quo agreements in Al-Aqsa and a violation of the sanctity of the holy places.”
“If the Israeli government does not stop storming Al-Aqsa Mosque and restricting worshippers, it bears the responsibility for the escalation in Jerusalem and the occupied territories.”
In order to ensure a smooth incursion of Israeli settlers, Israeli forces frequently clear Al-Aqsa Mosque, which Jews refer to as the Temple Mount, of Palestinians outside of the five Muslim prayer times, particularly at night and immediately following the dawn prayer.
Throughout the week-long Passover holiday, which began on Wednesday and ends on Thursday, Temple Movement groups have called for widespread stormings. These groups support the incursions and advocate for the destruction of Al-Aqsa.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque is an Islamic site where non-Muslims are prohibited from making uninvited visits, praying, or performing rituals, according to international agreements that have been in place for decades and are referred to as the status quo.
The delicate arrangement has been broken for a long time by Israeli groups working with authorities to facilitate daily raids of the site and carry out prayers and religious rituals without Jordanian or Palestinian permission.
Palestinians fear that Al-Aqsa Mosque is being set up to be divided between Muslims and Jews, similar to how the Ibrahimic Mosque in Hebron was divided in the 1990s, by establishing specific times when Palestinians can enter the site and allowing settlers to visit and pray there.