The Israeli occupation has not stopped its Judaization of Al-Quds through building settlements, carrying out excavations under Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, invading Al-Aqsa’s yards, and imposing severe restrictions on Muslims' access to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa. All these procedures aimed to impose a new reality by controlling the city and its Masjid and exploiting everything such as the Coronavirus pandemic to implement the occupation’s Judaizational plans.
Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Israeli occupation imposed four closures, the last of which lasted for 42 days, on occupied Al-Quds under the pretext of limiting the spread of the virus.
Sheikh Mohammed Azzam Al-Khatib, Director of Al-Quds Endowments and Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa Affairs, said that the old city in Al-Quds was under an actual siege due to the claimed protection work from the pandemic which the occupation exploited to start excavations in Al-Buraq Square and the western wall of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, and to deny Muslims access to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa and the Christians access to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Al-Quds.
Wasfi Kilani, the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock, confirmed that the entire area in the south of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa (from the Umayyad palaces near its southern, western walls to Silwan town; including Wadi Hilweh and Wadi Rabah; Al-Buraq Square and the Bab Al-Rahmah cemetery) are targeted by Judaizational attempts. He added that the occupation planned to surround Al-Masjid from all its sides by targeting the western side and uprooting trees and graves in the Bab Al-Rahmah cemetery, especially after surrounding it from the side of Al-Buraq Square.
It was known to the Jerusalemites that settlers would invade Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa collectively under heavy police protection. However, things changed as they started breaking into Al-Masjid individually as the police protected and suspiciously covered them.
The Department of Islamic Endowments in Al-Aqsa stated that it was the first time for the settlers to invade A-Aqsa individually and warned from a new Judaizational scheme to allow the incursions to be organized in a way different from before.
Ziad Abhais, a specialist in Al-Quds affairs, also outlined important changes in the perimeter of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa since the end of the fourth closure. The first change was the opening of a vaccination center in Al Omariya School, north of Al-Masjid, and placed its sign before the Lions' Gate. The second change was surrounding Al-Masjid with a system of loudspeakers to confuse the worshippers on the pretext of giving instructions about vaccinations and keeping a distance between them especially during Azan Jumu'ah and last Rakat of the prayer.
The third change was the denial of Murabiteens' buses coming from occupied lands of 1948 to enter Al-masjid allegedly because they had not been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Since the end of 2020, the occupation police have severely restricted the access of the West Bank's residents to the Old City, prevented their access to Al-Aqsa and checked the identities of dozens of them.
A New Reality
Khalid Zbarqh, specialist in Al-Quds affairs, said that the loudspeakers system inside the old city and on Al-Masjid's wall aimed to enforce the occupation’s sovereignty and to change the awareness of the people that the occupation has the right to decide and the Palestinians must comply.
Zbarqh added that these changes in Al-Aqsa were to empty Al-Quds from its people and transform it into a Jewish city in preparation for the demolition of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa and building the alleged Haykal. The occupation also exploited the Coronavirus pandemic, and considered it a historic opportunity to resolve Al-Aqsa and Al-Quds issue in its favor; making use of the international, local, and regional conditions which the occupation believes can facilitate the progress of its Zionist project.
However, the worshippers and Murabiteens' daily presence hindered the implementation of the occupation’s plans because it realized that they are the first line of defence for Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa and Al-Quds, particularly amidst the normalization with Arabs and the world's preoccupation with the Corona pandemic.
Source : PALM Strategic Initiatives Centre