For ten days now, Jerusalem has seen the worst bloodshed in years spurred by Israel’s decision to install metal detectors at the entrance to the mosque.
New Delhi: Adnan M.A. Abualhayjaa, the Palestinian ambassador to India, on Wednesday urged the Indian government to push Israel to reverse its security crackdown at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque after more than a week of violent protests.
For ten days now, Jerusalem has seen the worst bloodshed in years spurred by Israel’s decision to install metal detectors at the entrance to the Old City’s holy compound. The violence has resulted in at least six deaths, both Israeli and Palestinian.
Abualhayjaa’s statement followed a questioned shift in India’s long-standing support for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict after Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke with tradition by not visiting Ramallah, the Palestinian capital, on his trip to Israel in early July.
“India was leading other countries to support Palestinian people’s rights. What we are expecting is that the government is to continue positive attitudes,” Abualhayjaa said at the press conference held at the Palestinian embassy here.
“With the relation between this government and Israel, I could say that they could interfere in the situation, especially when they knew very well what is the Palestinian cause and what are their rights in the occupied Palestinian territories,” he said.
Abualhayjaa clarified that he does not think India is encouraging Israel’s policy. He emphasised that Modi reaffirmed his support for Palestinian sovereignty and a two-state solution when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited India in May, and encouraged India to continue its positive role in the region.
“India could coordinate with other countries to force Israel to follow international law and find a solution,” Abualhayjaa said.
Situation could become ‘more than an intifada’
The Al-Aqsa mosque compound, referred to as Haram al-Sharif by Muslims and the Temple Mount by Jews, has been contested by the two religions since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967. Tensions reignited on July 14 when three Arab Israeli citizens killed two Israeli police officers near the compound, prompting the Israeli government to install metal detectors at the mosque.
Thousands of Palestinians protested by praying outside the mosque on July 21, resulting in violent confrontations with Israeli security forces. So far hundreds have been injured and six killed, including three Palestinians and three Israelis.
Israel removed the metal detectors on Tuesday in favour of CCTV cameras and introducing a future plan for installing security cameras with face recognition software. However, Palestinian leaders, including Abualhayjaa, rejected the measures.
“The leaders of Al-Aqsa have told people that no one will go to pray before we will be sure that everything has returned to the situation before July 14,” Abualhayjaa said on Wednesday as he stood against a looping backdrop of images from the clashes, including a video of an Israeli soldier kicking a Palestinian worshipper.
Jordan currently serves as the custodian of the site, where Jews are not allowed to enter, but Jewish right-wing groups such as The Temple Mount Faithful are pushing to change that policy.
“Al-Aqsa is a Muslim place and there is nothing after that,”Abualhayjaa said. “And we will fight forever for that.”
He added that if security measures were not lifted, the region would only see increasing violence that “might be more than an intifada.”
“Israel is pushing for a religious war to change the situation from political conflict to religious conflict and war,” he said. “No one knows if it starts as religious, how it will be ended.”