Division of Al-Aqsa a 'red line': Turkey's top cleric

Head of Turkey’s Presidency for Religious Affairs warns against Israeli attempts to divide Islam’s third holiest site between Muslims, Jews

Division of Al-Aqsa a 'red line': Turkey's top cleric

World Bulletin / News Desk

Mehmet Gormez, head of the Turkish Presidency for Religious Affairs, warned Israel on Thursday against attempts to divide East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound -- "temporally and spatially" -- between Muslims and Jews.

"Israel aims to achieve the temporal and spatial division of Al-Aqsa," Gormez said. "This constitutes a red line for every Muslim living in the region."

He went on to assert that Turkey’s religious affairs directorate, also known as the Diyanet Foundation, would "never accept such a division".

On Sept. 13, clashes erupted between Israeli security forces and Palestinian Muslims after the Israeli authorities closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex off to Muslim men under 50.

For the next three days, they used rubber bullets, teargas and stun grenades to disperse Muslim worshippers therein, while extremist Jewish settlers were allowed into the site in large numbers.

Prominent Palestinian personalities and resistance groups subsequently warned that the move portended an attempt by Israel to divide the mosque compound, spatially and temporally, between Muslim and Jewish worshipers.

- ‘Surrounded by fire’

According to Gormez, the Islamic world is currently “surrounded by fire”, with many Muslim countries now suffering from violence and extremism.

He attributed most of these problems to "Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestinian land, including Al-Aqsa".

He went on to assert that Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestine was the main reason behind the many wars the region had suffered in recent history, including the 1991 Gulf War, the U.S. occupation of Iraq (2003-2011) and Syria’s ongoing civil war.

Gormez also accused the UN and world powers of "focusing on Israel’s security while forgetting about millions of Muslims".

"The collapse of the Ottoman Empire was a prelude to the establishment of Israel in 1948, by which [Israel]… divided Jerusalem [between east and west] and established its own Berlin Wall," Gormez said, referring to Israel’s separation wall, which now snakes across the occupied West Bank.

Jerusalem had been a part of the Ottoman Empire before the fall of the latter some 100 years ago.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount", claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Some Jewish extremist groups in Israel openly call for the mosque’s destruction so that a Jewish temple might be built in its place.

In September 2000, a visit to Al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the Second Intifada -- a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation during which thousands of Palestinians were killed.

In a wave of violence that came in the wake of last month’s clashes in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound (and which remains ongoing), 32 Palestinians have been killed this month alone by Israeli security forces.

Over the same period, some 1,700 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli gunfire, according to figures released by the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Ekim 2015, 09:35