Palestinians fume over Israel closing Jerusalem shrine after attack

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-14 20:06:26|Editor: Zhang Dongmiao
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RAMALLAH/GAZA, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Israel's decision to ban Palestinian Muslims from praying in al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday, in the wake of an earlier shooting attack, has outraged the Palestinians, who called for large protests, demonstrations and rallies.

Various Palestinian factions, mainly President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party, Islamic Jihad and Islamic Hamas movement, warned Israel of consequence of closing al-Aqsa Mosque in the face of thousands of Palestinian prayers who arrived in East Jerusalem for Friday prayers.

Osama al-Qawasmeh, Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, denounced in an emailed press statement closure of the mosque and ban of Muslim prayers.

He called on the Palestinians to head to al-Aqsa Mosque and prevent the closure.

Israel closed al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City in East Jerusalem on Friday after three Palestinian gunmen opened fire at an Israeli police force, where exchange of fire expanded to the yard of the mosque.

The gunmen, as well as two Israeli policemen were killed.

Islamic Hamas movement's spokesman in Gaza Hazem Qassem said in an emailed press statement that his movement welcomes and hails the shooting attack in Jerusalem, adding "the operation (attack) is evidence that our people and its political trends are ready to sacrifice their blood for the same of al-Aqsa Mosque."

"Every Israeli action against al-Aqsa Mosque will be strongly confronted," he added.

Following the attack in the Old City, the Israeli police shut down the gates that lead to al-Aqsa Mosque and prevented the Palestinians from entering into the yard of the mosque.

Tens of thousands gathered in the streets that lead to the old city, and protested the closure of their mosque.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke Friday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone and expressed his condemnation to the shooting attack in the old city of Jerusalem.

The Palestinian state-run news agency WAFA reported that Abbas expressed to Netanyahu his extreme rejection and condemnation to the attack.

The report also said Abbas asked Netanyahu to cancel all the Israeli measures taken to close al-Aqsa Mosque before tens of thousands of Muslim prayers on Friday.

Abbas warned that the Israeli measures "may lead to negative consequences and might be used by other groups to change the religious and historic position of the holy places."

Meanwhile, the Islamic Jihad in Gaza said in an emailed press statement that it welcomes "the heroic attack in Jerusalem that was a natural response to the Israeli measures in Jerusalem."

The group also warned Israel of closing the mosque and it said "it will forcibly confront the measure."

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and other minor Palestinian factions welcomed the shooting attack in Jerusalem and condemned the closure of al-Aqsa Mosque before Muslim worshippers during Friday prayers.

Abbas made a series of phone calls with Jordanian, Arab and international officials, urging them to pressure on Israel to cancel the closure of the mosque, reported WAFA.

Sheikh Ekrema Sabri, the Immam and the Speaker of al-Aqsa Mosque condemned the closure, saying that it is the first time since 1969 that Israel closes the mosque in the face of Muslim prayers.

These actions "are totally rejected and condemned," he said.