Jordan, Jerusalemites insist on Al-Aqsa status quo

Palestinian worshippers, who refuse to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque compound due to Israel’s new security measures, pray near a main entrance to the religious site in Jerusalem’s Old City, on Sunday. (AP)
Updated 17 July 2017
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Jordan, Jerusalemites insist on Al-Aqsa status quo

AMMAN: The general director of the Jordanian Jerusalem Awqaf, Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, has called on Israel to abide by existing understandings and the need to preserve the status quo in Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
The Jordanian Waqf authorities in Amman, the office of King Abdallah and the people of Jerusalem reject any changes to the status quo, Al-Khatib said.
Israel has “unilaterally set up four metal detectors at Lion’s Gate and two at Al-Majles Gate, which is a total violation of the status quo,” he told Arab News.
He added that his staff — comprising more than 300 male and female guards, preachers, muezzins, museum staff and other civil servants working in the mosque — refuse to pass through metal detectors.
“This is our mosque, we’re entrusted to guard it and we won’t accept Israeli impositions on it,” Al-Khatib said.
An attempt to bring in a coffin to be prayed over was halted because Israeli authorities insisted on having the coffin go through metal detectors.
While the call to prayer was made Sunday after the mosque’s 48-hour closure by Israel, most worshippers chose to pray beyond Israeli checkpoints rather than go through the metal detectors.
The Israelis “gave us all the keys (to the mosque gates) except the Lion’s Gate keys, which they’ll give us soon,” Al-Khatib said.
“We’ve changed over 50 locks, and we’ve set up a supervisory committee that will oversee the process of documenting if any materials have been taken or damaged during the 48 hours when we lost control over our own mosque.”
He credited King Abdallah’s call to Israel’s prime minister with the gradual reopening of the mosque.
“As a result of the call by his majesty, there were no gender or age restrictions as to who’s allowed entry to the mosque,” Al-Khatib said.
A 2014 understanding between Jordan, the US and Israel calls for unrestricted worship at Al-Aqsa to all Muslims.


HRW: Egypt fight against Daesh threatens humanitarian crisis

Updated 23 April 2018
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HRW: Egypt fight against Daesh threatens humanitarian crisis

  • Human Rights Watch said the offensive has left up to 420,000 residents in four northeastern cities in urgent need of humanitarian aid
  • Daesh group has killed hundreds of soldiers, policemen and civilians, mainly in its North Sinai stronghold but also elsewhere in Egypt

BEIRUT: Egypt’s military operations against an affiliate of the Daesh group in North Sinai is threatening to spark a humanitarian crisis, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.
The offensive launched on February 9 “has left up to 420,000 residents in four northeastern cities in urgent need of humanitarian aid,” said the New York-based organization.
The campaign “has included imposing severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods in almost all of” North Sinai, HRW said in a report.
“Residents say they have experienced sharply diminished supplies of available food, medicine, cooking gas, and other essential commercial goods.”
The authorities conducting the campaign, dubbed “Sinai 2018,” have also banned the sale of gasoline for cars in the area “and cut telecommunication services for several days at a time,” the report said.
Human Rights Watch also said authorities had “cut water and electricity almost entirely in the most eastern areas of North Sinai, including Rafah and Sheikh Zuwayed.”
“A counterterrorism operation that imperils the flow of essential goods to hundreds of thousands of civilians is unlawful and unlikely to stem violence,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, the organization’s Middle East and North Africa director.
“The Egyptian army’s actions border on collective punishment,” she added.
Since the launch of the offensive, the military has distributed images of forces providing humanitarian assistance to people living in the area.
According to the military, residents support the campaign and many have come forward with useful information to help the authorities neutralize the militants.
Security forces have stepped up efforts to quell attacks by an Egyptian militant group that later declared allegiance to Daesh since Islamist president Muhammad Mursi was deposed in 2013. Mursi was forced out by the military, following mass protests against him.
The group has killed hundreds of soldiers, policemen and civilians, mainly in its North Sinai stronghold but also elsewhere in Egypt.
More than 100 militant and at least 30 soldiers have been killed in the ongoing operation, according to army figures.