Monday , October 23 2017

Kuwait condemns Israeli desecration of Islamic, Christian sites

GENEVA, Sept 28, (Agencies): Kuwait condemned at a UN meeting Monday the Israeli desecrations and violations against Islamic and Christian sites in Jerusalem. Speaking to a meeting for the UN Council for Human Rights, Kuwait’s Permanent envoy to the UN headquarters to Geneva Ambassador Jamal Al-Ghunaim said that the continuous Israeli violations against Al-Aqsa Mosque and the attempts to hinder Palestinian presence at the Islamic shrine, was a clear violation of human rights. The international community has an obligation to protect the Palestinians and their sacred places of worship, said Al- Ghunaim. He added that the Israeli previous aggressions against the Palestinians, especially against those in the Gaza Strip, had remain uncontested despite the deaths of over 2,500 people, including children, women, and the elderly, in the Israeli assault back in 2014.

Violations
The Israeli violations were beyond military action, said Al- Ghunaim, adding that the construction of Jewish settlements on Palestinian and Arab lands still continues. Furthermore, the Israeli violations reached agricultural lands owned by Palestinians who are prevented from cultivating, harvesting, and benefiting from their own lands and goods, said the Ambassador. Meanwhile, Al-Ghunaim showcased Kuwait’s continuous commitment to the Palestinian people, noting that recently his country donate a sum of $15 million to UNRWA to help cover the educational expenses of Palestinian students at 685 schools. He also noted that Kuwait had donated $200 million to help in the reconstruction of the southern area of the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, Palestinians clashed with Israeli riot police after barricading themselves in a mosque at Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site, throwing firebombs and rocks at officers outside during a major Jewish holiday on Monday.

Conflict
The hilltop compound in Jerusalem’s Old City is a frequent flashpoint and its fate is a core issue at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is known to Jews as the Temple Mount, site of the two biblical Jewish temples. Muslims revere it as the Noble Sanctuary, where they believe the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) ascended to heaven. Police said young protesters barricaded themselves inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque at the site, despite an order permitting only men over the age of 50 from entering the compound for prayers. Israel has imposed the ban at times of unrest in the past as it is mostly young Palestinians who throw rocks at the holy site. Women of all ages are allowed to enter. Spokeswoman Luba Samri said Palestinians stockpiled rocks and other projectiles at the Al-Aqsa Mosque overnight. She said police had tried to negotiate with the Waqf — the Islamic religious authority that oversees the compound — to call for calm, but talks failed and police entered the compound to seize the “dangerous devices intended to harm visitors to the site and police and endanger their lives.” Palestinians threw rocks, firebombs and firecrackers from within the mosque at police, Samri said, adding that the fire bombs sparked a fire at the entrance to the mosque. Waqf guards didn’t prevent the “desecration of the sanctity of the place,” she said. Officers later managed to restore calm but sporadic Palestinian stone throwing persisted throughout the morning. By noon the site was quiet, police said. The director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Omar Kiswani, blamed Israeli police for the violence. “We asked the police yesterday not to allow any non-Muslim in the compound in these tense days but police didn’t respond positively to our demands,” he said, adding that several people had suffered from tear gas inhalation. The Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Hussein, condemned Israel’s actions against the protesters saying it will have “serious consequences.” “Israel is trying to divide the mosque between us and Jews, the mosque is ours.

It’s an Islamic holy site and we will not let them do that,” he said. It was the second day in a row of violence at the site. Monday’s unrest occurred on the first day of Sukkot, a weeklong festival that celebrates the fall harvest and commemorates the wandering of the ancient Israelites through the desert following the exodus from Egypt. In ancient times, Jews made pilgrimages to Jerusalem on Sukkot, and many Jews are expected to visit the city throughout the holiday period.

Rumors have swirled among Palestinians that Jews are planning to take over the holy site, which has fueled tensions. Those rumors were exacerbated earlier this month by calls from a group of religious Jews to visit the site on the eve of the Jewish New Year. Palestinians say in the last two months there has been a new development where Israel has intermittently restricted some Muslims from the compound when Jews visit. Israel says this is to reduce friction, but Palestinians claim that Israel intends to establish Muslim-free Jewish visiting hours, which they fear could upset the fragile arrangement in place. The site is so sensitive that even rumors are enough to trigger violence.

Israel has promised to ensure the status quo at the site and insists it will not allow the delicate status quo governing the site to be changed. But its actions in quelling the violence have drawn criticism from Arab countries including Jordan, which has a peace treaty with Israel, and administers Muslim religious affairs at the site. Israel has blamed Palestinian leaders for inciting the unrest. Non-Muslim visitors are only allowed to enter the site at specific hours and are banned by police from praying there.

However many Muslims view these visits as a provocation. The hilltop compound is so holy for Jews that they traditionally have refrained from praying there, congregating instead at the adjacent Western Wall. Israel’s chief rabbis, as well as the rabbi of the Western Wall, have issued directives urging people not to ascend the Temple Mount — arguing that Jews could inadvertently enter the holiest area of the once-standing temple, where it was forbidden to tread. But there is a movement advocating the rights for Jews to pray at the hilltop. Some try and get around the ban on prayers by secretly mumbling the words. Police said 24 Jews and 450 tourists visited the site Monday morning.

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