22 February 2012 | Middle East Monitor
A study conducted by Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage in Israel has revealed that Al-Aqsa Mosque and its surrounding area has been subjected to around 100 attacks and violations in 2011 alone. The study noted that the attacks varied between physical attacks and plots which pose threats to the sanctity and security of the mosque. The study also documented provocative statements constituting incitement by Israelis to damage the third holiest site in the Muslim world.
The report claims that around 5,000 Israelis, including Jewish settlers and members of other extremist groups, stormed into Al-Aqsa in 2011. The intruders performed Talmudic rituals, sometimes in public, other times in secret, including carrying parts of the Torah inside the mosque.
There has also been an escalation in the frequency of incursions by Israeli intelligence officers and political and official figures into Al-Aqsa Mosque.
More than 200,000 tourists were granted admittance to the mosque, sometimes violating its sanctity by wearing scanty clothing.
Al-Aqsa has witnessed a campaign of unprecedented military presence; strict measures preventing Muslims from going to the mosque; and acts aimed at decreasing the continuous Muslim presence in the Noble Sanctuary, through banning orders and limiting entry to certain age groups. The Israeli Occupation Authorities also prevented 3.7 million Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip from reaching Occupied Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque to conduct acts of worship therein.
While the Israelis have blocked essential maintenance and reconstruction within the mosque compound, Jewish organisations’ calls for the mosque to be destroyed and a temple to be built in its place have increased in number. The year 2011 saw a campaign of excavations and the construction of long, interlinked tunnels underneath Al Aqsa and the surrounding area in all directions. The tunnels are to have “Jewish synagogues and Judaisation centres”. What has been notable about the excavations last year is that they have been more overt, unlike previous years.
Israeli efforts to Judaise the area have included work at the Muslim-owned Buraq (“Wailing”) Wall and the proposed demolition of the historic Magharba Gate Bridge. The report notes that the latter was saved, temporarily at least, by the effects of the Arab Spring and concerns raised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel has plans to transform the area around Al-Aqsa into so-called “Talmudic gardens”, which will incorporate tourist centres and commercial shopping malls. All of this is in addition to the increasing number of illegal Jewish settlers and settlements in districts such as Ras Al-Amoud.
The Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage has issued a warning that the Israeli Occupation Authorities could seek to capitalise on the developments of the Arab Spring so as to damage Al-Aqsa Mosque and Sanctuary in 2012. Intelligence reports, it says, predict serious attacks against Al-Aqsa by extremist Jews. Such predictions follow statements by former Knesset (Israeli Parliament) Member Avraham Burg that Al-Aqsa will be demolished or torched while Netanyahu is in office; and this, he claimed, will be followed by the establishment of the so-called Third Temple. In the light of these serious threats to the Holy Mosque, the Foundation called on Muslims and Arabs to put Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa at the top of their priorities for action.