Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Al-Tayeb, Egyptian Imam of al-Azhar Mosque (Photo: Reuters)
The world’s highest seat of Sunni Islam, Egypt’s Al-Azhar, strongly condemned on Wednesday the recurrent storming by Israeli settlers of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem this week, state news agency MENA reported.
Al-Azhar also reportedly warned that storming the mosque could impede efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and anger Muslims worldwide.
In an official statement, the top Islamic body called on regional organisations such as the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation – in addition to international bodies -- to take serious measures to stop such " barbaric attacks and flagrant violations" at the site, Islam's third holiest.
On Sunday, about 400 Israelis stormed the compound to commemorate the destruction of two ancient temples. Jews are allowed to visit but not to pray on the esplanade.
Al-Azhar also rejected any plans that aim to "Judai –ise” Jerusalem and erase its Islamic identity, and any attempts to divide the holy site."
Israelis refer to the area that encompasses Al-Aqsa Mosque as the "Temple Mount," saying it was the site of two prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.
On Monday, Jordan, which is the custodian of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, denounced Israel for allowing "Zionist extremists" to enter and pray there.
The anger of Palestinian residents in Jerusalem has increased over the last 10 months, as Israeli authorities allowed increasing numbers of Jewish settlers to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 war. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognised by the international community.