Mufti slams Jewish settlers’ storming Al-Aqsa compound

Grand Mufti of Jerusalem on Sunday warned of “religious war” after hundreds of Jewish settlers stormed East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque, Anadolu reports.

According to the official Wafa news agency, Sheikh Mohamed Hussein said in a statement that the storming by the Israeli settlers would not change Arab-Islam pattern of Jerusalem.

“But perseveration of such attempts will drag the region into a religious war,” he said.

Earlier, more than 1,000 Israeli settlers forced their way into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound under heavy protection of Israeli police.

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Hussein said Palestinians were prudent in the face of such attempts that intend to spark fresh incidents. “But our people are defending Al-Aqsa and will continue to defend [it].”

Firas al-Dibis, an official with Jerusalem’s Jordan-run Religious Endowments Authority, said Israeli police stormed the compound before the settlers and carried out protective sweeps and search.

The move came days after Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed a controversial law that recognizes Israel as the “nation-state of the Jewish people”.

For Muslims, the Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount”, claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the Jewish state — a move never recognized by the international community.