Al-Aqsa Mosque must be reopened immediately - Hazzard
Sinn Féin’s Chris Hazzard MP has called on the Israeli government to immediately re-open the Al-Aqsa mosque compound claiming that the draconian reaction to the killing of two Israeli policemen amounted to "collective punishment” of the Palestinian community and a "clear violation of Palestinian religious freedoms.”
The South Down MP said:
“This is the first time in decades that the holy site has been closed for Friday prayers and news that the Israeli authorities plan to keep the compound in lockdown for another 24hrs at least is highly unusual and should be roundly rejected.
"Closing the holy site will only serve to heighten tensions in Jerusalem and will do little to deter further violent incidents - in fact this draconian security response is little more than a form of collective punishment against the Palestinian community in Jerusalem and will be rightly viewed as a direct attack on their religious freedom to worship at their sacred site.
“For some weeks now Israeli authorities have been abusing the status quo agreement previously reaffirmed with King Abdullah of Jordan in 2015. Muslim worshippers have been locked out of the site on a number of occasions whilst Jews entered the site.
Mr Hazzard added:
"I have little doubt that these attempts by Israeli authorities to occupy the Al Aqsa sacred site is symptomatic of their wider strategy to compete the occupation of Palestine.
“Israeli authorities should immediately lift this draconian lockdown on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and return to the shared agreement of the status quo which allows Palestinians the freedom to worship freely at their sacred site.”