A senior Muslim cleric in Palestine criticised Israeli police for preventing from Muslims worshippers from entering the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning.
"The situation is difficult as the occupation forces blocked the mosque's gates, preventing Muslims from entering. They should not prevent worshipers from entering the mosque; this is an arbitrary action," the mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories, Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, said in a phone conversation with Reuters.
He described the situation as a major escalation and an imminent danger for the Al-Aqsa mosque, a site of frequent religious tension in occupied east Jerusalem.
"Some people are still trapped inside the mosque, especially the southern quarter of the mosque; the doors are closed on them," he said.
According to the Palestinian news agency WAFA, Hussein revealed that he was personally banned from entering the mosque.
He condemned the "repeated incursions" carried out by Jewish groups to Al-Aqsa "under the protection of Israel's occupation forces" and warned that the "Judaization" of Jerusalem and its Islamic holy sites is still ongoing.
The Palestinian foreign affairs ministry also condemned the Israeli attack on the prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque.
In a statement published on its official website, the ministry said that all the required measures will be taken to sue Israel and all its officials in the International Criminal Court for their aggravation towards Palestinians.
It also demanded the EU and the US be assertive in dealing with Israel and its policy in destructing the peace process. "The EU and the US must be clearer in their statements, and link their relationship with Israel according to Israel's commitment to the peace process, international legitimacy and international law," the statement read.
Clashes in Jerusalem
A large number of Israeli special units and rapid intervention forces broke into Al-Aqsa mosque via the Mughrabi gate on Wednesday morning, WAFA reported. Clashes with Palestinians, who were protesting the ban on praying inside the mosque, had begun on Tuesday night, and Israeli soldiers had fired sound bombs and teargas at the demonstrations.
Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said that dozens of Palestinian youths began throwing stones and firing flares at police once Jewish visitors ascended to Al-Aqsa compound on the eve of the Feast of Tabernacles' holiday.
Samri, according to an AFP report, announced that five Palestinians were arrested, while Palestinian medics said 17 others were injured.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a discussion this afternoon on the continuing disturbances in eastern Jerusalem. Netanyahu instructed that forces be increased in the ''confrontation areas and that vigorous action'' be taken against those who ''disturb the peace.''
"Recently there has been stone-throwing, disturbances and violence. I think that we need to deal with this not just due to the holidays but in a thorough manner," said Netanyahu.
Other Palestinian reactions
The Palestinian Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs, Sheikh Yusuf Idris, urged "the exposure of the Israeli occupation's violations," which he believes are committed on a daily basis, WAFA said.
Idris called for the launching of a unified media campaign to defend Al-Aqsa mosque to serve this aim, stressing the need for a "coherent and informative" Palestinian speech as the actions of Tel Aviv signifies a "breach of moral values and monotheistic religions."
The Secretary General of the Islamic-Christian Committee to Support Occupied Jerusalem and Holy Sites, Hanna Issa, warned in a Wednesday statement of the consequences of committing a new "massacre'' in the mosque.
Jordan's Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications, Mohammad Al-Momni, also called on the Israelis "to stop the ferocious campaign against Al-Aqsa mosque," the Palestinian press agency SAFA reported.
"Occupation forces have fully banned Muslims worshippers, guards and endowment employees from entering Al-Aqsa at a time when extremist Jews and settlers stormed the mosque to practice their prayers under the forces' protection," Al-Momni said on Wednesday.
Al-Momni called on international and humanitarian organisations, including the Arab League, UNESCO and Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), to press Israel to end the ''siege of Al-Aqsa'', abide by the peace agreement with Jordan and avoid "creating rifts between followers of religions.''
The crisis comes two months after an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Palestinian factions and Israel after a fifty-day Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip.