Orthodox Jews on the Temple Mount.
(photo credit: MENACHEM SHLOMO)
Jewish tours of the Temple Mount are part of an Israeli scheme to ignite a religious war, the Palestinian Authority said on Sunday.
The allegation came in response to a visit to the Mount by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel.
In recent years, the PA has been regularly condemning visits by Jewish groups and individuals to the Temple Mount, claiming they were “storming the Aqsa Mosque.”
“The aggression on al-Aqsa Mosque by storming it is a hellish crime perpetrated by and initiated by an extremist terror ideology,” said Yusef al-Mahmoud, spokesman of the Ramallah-based PA government.
He claimed that the Israeli minister’s visit to the Temple Mount was carried out on instructions from the Israeli government to “storm the Aqsa Mosque on a daily basis.”
Mahmoud said that anyone who takes part in storming mosques and churches in Jerusalem, “represents this bloody ideology, which is even banned under Israeli laws.”
Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for the Waqf Department in east Jerusalem, claimed that Ariel “stormed the mosque accompanied by dozens of settlers.” He described the tour as “suspicious.”
Jews consider Mount Moriah, also called the Temple Mount, to be the site of Judaism’s two ancient temples. For Muslims, the site containing the Dome of Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, together called al-Haram ash-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), is the third holiest place in Islam after the mosques in Mecca and Medina.
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