Israel will bear the consequences if it allows Jews to hold a flag march in the Old City of Jerusalem or go anywhere near the Aqsa Mosque compound on the Temple Mount, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and other Palestinian factions said Wednesday.
The warnings came on the eve of next week’s Jerusalem Day, which is expected to be marked by holding a flag march in the Old City, specifically at the Damascus Gate.
Some Jewish groups and individuals have announced their intention to visit the Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day.
Over the past few days, Palestinian activists have used social media to call on Muslims to converge on the site next Sunday and Monday to “confront extremist settlers who are planning to storm into the Aqsa Mosque.”
The calls are being directed to the Palestinians under the banner: “You will not raise your flags at the Aqsa Mosque.”
Similar appeals over the past few months prompted tens of thousands of Muslim worshipers to arrive at the Aqsa Mosque compound, sometimes clashing with Israeli police officers.
Last year, the Palestinians also threatened violence if Israel allowed Jews to carry flags and march into the Old City through Damascus Gate. The route of that march was changed.
This year, however, the flag march is expected to take place early next week, and its route will include Damascus Gate. The Palestinians say carrying or raising Israeli flags at Damascus Gate is a “provocation.”
Allowing Jews to “storm” the Aqsa Mosque or hold a flag rally would be regarded as a crossing of all redlines, Hamas said Wednesday.
“The leaders of the occupation will bear the heavy cost of its racist and extremist behavior,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.
The leaders of the occupation will bear the heavy cost of its racist and extremist behavior.Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum.
The Israeli government, “should understand very well the messages of the Palestinian resistance away from the mentality of terrorism and extremism that it has been accustomed to,” he said.
Barhoum warned the government against crossing the redlines, saying it would “ignite the scene and lead to an explosion.”
He called on the international community to put pressure on Israel to prevent a flare-up of violence.
“Hamas and the resistance factions won’t abandon their duty to protect our people and its holy sites and are ready to deal with all scenarios,” said.
Muslim worshipers raised Hamas and Palestinian flags at the Aqsa Mosque compound during Ramadan.
Another Hamas spokesman, Mohammed Hamadeh, called on Palestinians to arrive en masse at the site on Sunday “to thwart the plans of the occupation and its settlers and to escalate confrontations with the occupation forces.”Hamas was ready to respond to any Israeli “provocation,” he said.
Referring to last year’s Israel-Hamas war, which erupted as a result of tensions in Jerusalem, Hamadeh said: “The Battle of Sword of Jerusalem made the Zionist enemy understand that al-Aqsa Mosque is a redline. This is a fixed rule that will not change, and there is no place for the Zionist occupation in al-Aqsa Mosque.”
PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s adviser on religious affairs, Mahmoud al-Habbash, on Wednesday said Israel was responsible for the repercussions of the “attack on al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem and the Ibrahimi Mosque [Tomb of the Patriarchs] in Hebron.”
The Israeli authorities have “cut the historic white stairs in the Ibrahimi Mosque,” he said in Ramallah, referring to a project to build an electric elevator to facilitate access for the disabled to the site.
The project was a “Judaization settlement plan aimed at facilitating the incursion of settlers” into the Tomb of the Patriarchs, he added.
Habbash also warned against allowing Jews to hold a flag march in the Old City or “storm” the Muslim Quarter or the Western Wall Plaza.
Such actions would lead to more tensions and an “explosion,” he said.
Israel is “escalating its aggression against Jerusalem and Hebron and seeking to impose a temporal and spatial division on the Haram al-Sharif [Noble Sanctuary], as it did in the Ibrahimi Mosque,” he added.
The Palestinians will face “the criminal schemes of the occupation against our holy sites,” Habbash said. He called on Arabs and Muslims “to support the Palestinian people and strengthen their steadfastness in their land and homeland.”
Meanwhile, several Palestinian terrorist groups said they have ordered their men to be on high alert to respond to the Israeli “crimes” in Jerusalem next week. Any harm or “aggression” on al-Aqsa Mosque would result in a massive explosion in the region, they said.
The groups also urged Palestinians to intensify presence at the mosque and in other parts of Jerusalem to foil Israel’s “malicious conspiracies.”
According to an unconfirmed report in a Hezbollah-affiliated newspaper, Hamas has informed Egyptian and Qatari mediators that Israel is pushing the situation toward a new confrontation. The groups reportedly told the mediators they will not allow Israel to continue its “provocations” against the Palestinians and all Muslims in Jerusalem.