Palestinian resistance groups on Sunday called for defending the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem against Israeli violations.
Palestinians mark the 53rd anniversary of an arson attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque by extremist Australian tourist Denis Michael Rohan in 1969.
In a statement, the Hamas group called on the Arab and Muslim nations “to shoulder their historic responsibility towards protecting Al-Aqsa against plots to Judaize it.”
“Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa are the core of the conflict with the enemy and the compass for unifying our people and nation,” it said.
“There is no sovereignty or legitimacy to the occupation on any inch of Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Hamas stressed.
Islamic Jihad group, for its part, called on Palestinians to continue defending Al-Aqsa Mosque “by all means”.
“Resistance in all forms is the key to defending Jerusalem, which will remain Arab and Islamic,” the movement said in a statement.
On August 21, 1969, extremist Michael Rohan set fire to Al-Aqsa Mosque, destroying several parts of the historic mosque, including a 1,000-year-old wood-and-ivory pulpit dating back to the time of celebrated Muslim conqueror Saladin.
The blaze also destroyed the mihrab (prayer niche) of Muslim Caliph Omar bin al-Khattab, along with large sections of the mosque’s heavily-ornamented interior and gilded wooden dome.
Two days after the attack, Rohan was arrested by the Israeli authorities, who said he suffered from severe mental illness, eventually deporting him back to his native Australia.
Muslim countries responded to the incident by establishing the multilateral Organization of the Islamic Conference, which was later renamed the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
On Sept. 15, 1969, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 271, which condemned the destructive attack on the mosque and chastised the Israeli government for failing to respect UN decisions.
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 had been the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.