Palestinian Authority officials on Wednesday stepped up their attacks against Israel and warned that its policies, especially on the Temple Mount, would lead to violence and instability in the region.
The attacks came in response to visits by Jews to al-Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), the Muslims’ term for the Temple Mount, and the dispute over the Bab al-Rahma prayer hall in the eastern part of the Aqsa Mosque compound.
The officials expressed outrage after some of the Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount carried Israeli flags.
Police enter Bab al-Rahma section of Temple Mount
The officials also condemned Israeli authorities for entering the Bab al-Rahma prayer hall and removing electrical cables installed by Palestinians during Ramadan.
Bab al-Rahma (Golden Gate or Gate of Mercy) was closed by the Israel Police in 2003 to prevent members of the Islamic Movement-Northern Branch in Israel and Hamas supporters from taking control of the site.
Palestinians claim that Israel is seeking to turn the controversial area into a synagogue.
The Israel Police said officers had discovered, during a routine inspection, “safety deficiencies and changes that were carried out illegally during Ramadan” inside the prayer hall.
“The Israel Police will continue to work toward safeguarding the holy sites and preserving security and order in accordance with the existing practice in the place,” the Israel Police said.
PA presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh accused Israel of “dragging the region into a square of violence, escalation, tension and instability through its insistence on continuing the policy of collective punishment, killing, assaults on al-Aqsa Mosque and settler terrorism.”
He denounced Jews who visit the Temple Mount as “extremist settlers” and accused the police of “storming into the Bab al-Rahma chapel and damaging the electricity power grids inside it.”
These actions “confirm that the extremist Israeli government is looking for ways to escalate the situation,” Abu Rudeineh said.
The Palestinian people “won’t allow the occupation authorities to harm al-Aqsa Mosque,” he said, adding that Israel was “playing with fire.”
Abu Rudeineh also took Israel to task for its ongoing counterterrorism measures in the West Bank, dubbing them “collective punishment.” This policy “will not bring security and stability to anyone, but will push the region to further escalation and tension,” he said.
Abu Rudeineh urged the US administration “to intervene immediately to stop these dangerous practices and put pressure on Israel to halt all its unilateral measures.”
PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh also denounced the police measures at Bab al-Rahma, which he described as an “integral part of al-Aqsa Mosque.”
In opening remarks at the weekly meeting of the PA cabinet in Ramallah, Shtayyeh called for an end to Israeli “incursions” into al-Aqsa Mosque and “assaults on the churches.”
A Palestinian group called the Islamic-Christian Committee to Support Jerusalem and its Holy Sites warned on Wednesday that the Israeli government was working toward controlling Bab al-Rahma and turning it into a synagogue.
“All indications confirm that the eastern section of al-Aqsa Mosque is being targeted as part of a scheme to divide the Aqsa Mosque compound in time and space [between Muslims and Jews],” the committee said in a statement. It warned that, if implemented, the alleged scheme would lead to an “unprecedented explosion.”