Palestinians gather in Jerusalem to defend Al-Aqsa Mosque

Ahram Online , Sunday 12 Feb 2012

Palestinians rally to defend Al-Aqsa Mosque amid rumours of an imminent attack by extremist Jews

Al-Aqsa Mosque (R) and the Dome of the Rock Mosque (L) lie on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, (Photo: AP).

Thousands of Palestinians gathered around Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, according to reports, in an attempt to prevent an allegedly impending attack Sunday by Israeli Likud supporters aiming tear down the Islamic shrine.

Likud leader Moshe Feiglin had urged party activists to "purify the site from the enemies of Israel who stole the land and build the Third Temple on the ruins of the mosques," according to The Jerusalem Post, referring to the ancient Temple of Solomon, the ruins of which are claimed to lay under Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Fatah official responsible for the Jerusalem file, Hatem Abdel Kader, told the Kuwait News Agency KUNA that large numbers of Palestinian residents in Jerusalem observed fajr (dawn) prayers in Al-Aqsa early Sunday and stayed to protect the mosque from a possible attack.

The Jerusalem Post said Israeli police prevented Feiglin and three other Likud activists from entering the Haram El-Sharif area where Al-Aqsa Mosque lies, saying the area was closed to all non-Muslims as a result of Feiglin's announcement.

Israeli army and police set up barricades on Saturday at the Damascus, Herod and Lions' gates to the Old City, carrying out identity checks.

Many clashes occurred between Jerusalem residents and Israeli forces, according to the Middle East News Agency (MENA), at Al-Nazer, one of 11 gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and Al-Wad Street, while Israeli army, police and intelligence officers patrolled streets close to the mosque's gates.

News of the attack called for by Feiglin caused alarm on social networking site Twitter where users implored Palestinians able to go to Al-Aqsa and defend it. Others claimed the whole affair was a hoax.

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