Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the Al-Masjid compound will remain reserved for Muslims for prayers and open to visitation for other religions as further violence erupts there.
Israel “will not change” the status quo on the esplanade of the Mosques of Jerusalem, according to which Muslims can pray on this holy place but not the faithful of other religions, declared on April 24 the head of Israeli diplomacy.
A holy place under high tension
“Muslims pray on the Temple Mount, non-Muslims can only visit. There is no change, and there will be no change,” Yair Lapid told the foreign press after days of violence on the Esplanade des Mosques, the third holiest site in Islam, also considered as the holiest place in Judaism under its name “Temple Mount”.
After deadly attacks in Israel, including two perpetrated by Palestinians, then heavy-handed operations by the Israeli army in the occupied West Bank, violence erupted in mid-April on the esplanade of the Mosques of Jerusalem, raising fears of a new escalation. violence between Israel and Palestinian armed movements.
On April 22, more than fifty Palestinians were injured in clashes on the spot with the Israeli police, who said they had intervened after young “rioters” threw stones from the esplanade towards the Wall of Wailing below.
Israeli forces ‘helped save lives’, Lapid says
The esplanade of the Mosques is located in the eastern, Palestinian portion of Jerusalem, occupied since 1967 by the Jewish state. This Muslim holy site is administered by Jordan, but its access is controlled by Israel.
The deployment of Israeli police forces on the esplanade of the Mosques, and on occasion in the local Al-Aqsa mosque, is “justified” in the circumstances, said Yaïr Lapid.
“The police intervened because there were hundreds of rioters dispatched by Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” Yair Lapid said. “I think [que ce déploiement] was justified because it averted a disaster […] in fact it has saved lives,” said Yaïr Lapid as the Israeli authorities fear new tensions in Jerusalem.