Palestinians accuse Gulf visitors of ‘desecrating’ Al-Aqsa Mosque

Visitors of the Al-Aqsa Mosque were accused of promoting normalization with Israel and “desecrating” the holy site.

The Dome of the Rock mosque is seen during the sunset at the al-Aqsa mosque compound (photo credit: SAEED QAQ/NURPHOTO VIA AFP)
The Dome of the Rock mosque is seen during the sunset at the al-Aqsa mosque compound
(photo credit: SAEED QAQ/NURPHOTO VIA AFP)
A recent visit by Gulf Arabs to al-Aqsa Mosque has sparked outrage among east Jerusalem residents and the Palestinian ruling Fatah faction, who accused the visitors of promoting normalization with Israel and “desecrating” the holy site.
Palestinians initially claimed that the visitors were from Oman. Later, however, they said the delegation members who prayed at the mosque were from the United Arab Emirates.
In August, the UAE became the third Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan, to agree to formally normalize its relationship with Israel.
The Palestinian leadership has condemned the deal, accusing the UAE of backstabbing the Palestinians and betraying the Palestinian issue, al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem.
The Omani government on Saturday denied that any of its citizens had visited or prayed at al-Aqsa. A government official in Oman was quoted as saying that no Omani delegation had made an official visit to Jerusalem, adding that his country’s position toward the Palestinian issue is “clear.”
Eyewitnesses said the Emirati delegation entered al-Aqsa compound “under Israeli police protection.” The delegation consisted of nine men and one woman, they said, adding that the Wakf Department was not notified in advance of the visit.
Shadi Mtour, a Fatah leader from east Jerusalem, accused the Gulf visitors of “storming al-Aqsa Mosque,” a phrase regularly used by Palestinians to describe tours by Jews to the Temple Mount.
Mtour said the visit “was not different from the repeated incursions of the occupation soldiers and settlers, who desecrate al-Aqsa under the protection of the occupation soldiers, during which attacks are carried out on worshipers and Jerusalem residents.”
He added that “any [Arab] delegation visiting Jerusalem through the gates of the occupation is not welcome.”
During the visit, the police detained three Muslim worshipers who chanted slogans denouncing the Emirati visitors: As’ad Ajjaj, Amjad al-Sumari and Ahmed Sublaban.  
Monir al-Jaghoub, a senior Fatah official, recently warned that Arabs who support normalization with Israel would have shoes thrown in their face if they enter Jerusalem under Israeli protection. “They should only blame themselves if our people welcomed them by throwing old shoes in their faces,” al-Jaghoub wrote on Twitter.
A group called the National and Islamic Forces in Occupied Jerusalem said the visit was an “implementation of the treacherous agreement signed between the UAE and the occupation entity.”
Many Palestinians also took to various social media platforms to denounce the Emirati delegation for visiting and praying at al-Aqsa, especially under the protection of the Israel police. They accused the delegation members of “desecrating” the mosque and called for replacing the carpets where the visitors prayed.