The al-Aqsa mosque is located in the Old City of Jerusalem in Palestine and is the third holiest site in Islam after the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina and the Grand Mosque in Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Its holy status was violated by Israeli police who entered the compound and attacked worshippers.
On the holiest day of Ramadhan the Israelis carried out an assault on the Palestine mosque that has led to at least 26 deaths including nine children and more than 700 Palestinians have been injured in total, but what happened exactly?
The latest bout of violence occurred on Monday morning as Israeli nationalists prepared to parade through the Old City in an annual flag-waving march. Jerusalem Day marks the day East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel in 1967.
Police officers fired rubber-coated bullets, tear gas and sound bombs into the crowds of Palestinian protesters, who in turn threw stones at Israeli police.
What is the significance of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock Mosque?
Masjidul Aqsa translates as ‘the Farthest Mosque’. The wider compound includes the Dome of the Rock mosque, seventeen gates and four minarets, and is usually referred to as Haram Sharif, which means ‘Noble Sanctuary’.
The Dome of the Rock is one of the earliest surviving buildings in the Islamic world. It is believed that Muhammad (s) departed from there on his night journey to the heavens.
To realise the enormity of Israeli aggression, it is like Muslims invading the Vatican and attacking worshippers there on Christmas day.
Masjid Al-Aqsa is important in Islam because Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad (s) was transported from the Sacred Mosque in Mecca to al-Aqsa during the Night Journey, and then on to heaven. It is also believed that the Prophet Muhammad led prayers towards this site until Allah directed him to turn towards the Kaaba.
It was the second place of worship built in Islam, 40 years after the Kaaba, and is mentioned in the Qur’an in numerous places as being ‘holy’ and ‘blessed.’
Israel has the most powerful military in the Middle East as opposed to the Palestinians who don’t even have an airport let alone an army. If Israel keeps goading the Palestinians in this way, it could spark a third Intifada. The first intifada lasted from 1987 to 1993, and the second began in 2000 after Ariel Sharon made a highly provocative visit to al-Aqsa.
Hamas has responded to Israeli aggression by firing home-made rockets into Israel. Its military wing has said it is responsible for the rocket fire. Israel has retaliated by bombing 150 targets in Gaza which is one of the most densely populated places on Earth.
It is time for humanity to hold Israel accountable for its crimes.