CAIRO: Egypt’s Foreign Ministry and the Arab League have condemned Israeli forces’ involvement in violent clashes outside Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
More than 160 Palestinians and at least six Israeli police officers were injured in a series of confrontations at the mosque late on Friday.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said that it condemned Israeli forces’ “storming of the mosque and assault on worshippers there.”
A ministry statement called on Israeli authorities to “shoulder their responsibility in accordance with international law in providing the required protection for the Palestinian civilians and their right to perform their religious rituals.”
The ministry also highlighted the need to “halt any activities that violate the sanctity of the mosque, the holy month of Ramadan, and the Islamic and Christian Arab identity of Jerusalem city.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez reiterated Egypt’s rejection of any illegal activities that seek to undermine the rights of the Palestinian people, particularly the construction or expansion of settlements on Palestinian territory, as well as confiscation of lands and displacement of Palestinians.
This “represents a violation of international law, undermines the chances of achieving the two-state solution, and represents a threat to the pillars of security and stability in the region,” said Hafez.
He denounced Israeli attempts to evict Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah district in east Jerusalem, saying that this “represents a violation of international humanitarian law and a continuation of the policy of forced displacement.”
Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit also condemned the violence at the mosque, and the targeting of unarmed Palestinians with sound and gas bombs as well as rubber bullets.
Warning of the consequences of escalation, Aboul Gheit said that the assault “provokes the feelings of Muslims around the world and reflects the intended Israeli policy of escalation.”
The violence follows recent “provocations and irresponsible actions against the Palestinian people,” he said.
Aboul Gheit called for immediate international action to halt the assaults, warning of an irreversible escalation in the occupied territories.
An official source in the Arab League Secretariat quoted Aboul Gheit as saying that the timing of the Israeli assault reveals “a premeditated intention to provoke the Palestinians.”
It “also demonstrates recklessness with the feelings of Muslims and their right to perform their rituals in Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan,” he said.
The Arab League chief held the Israeli government accountable for what he described as “dangerous, irresponsible escalation.”
Meanwhile, the Arab League said it will hold an extraordinary session on Monday at the request of Palestine and supported by Jordan, Yemen and Qatar to discuss the Israeli crimes and attacks in the occupied city of Jerusalem, the Islamic and Christian holy sites, especially the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the attacks on worshipers.
The delegates are also expected to discuss “the brutal Israeli attacks and plans to seize the homes of Palestinian families living in Jerusalem, especially in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, in an attempt to empty the city of its residents and displace its people,” the Arab League said in a statement.
Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki earlier on Saturday said that following orders from President Mahmoud Abbas, Palestine has requested urgent meetings of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to be held later this week, in response to Israel’s escalating violence in occupied Jerusalem.
“Palestine will also be seeking an urgent UN Human Rights Council meeting to discuss Israel’s escalating violence in Jerusalem during the Muslim month of Ramadan and its attempt to impose fait accompli on the ground,” he said, according toPalestinian Wafa news agency.
“These meetings are aimed at urgent interventions to stop these [Israeli] crimes, and to hold the occupying power, the apartheid state of Israel, responsible for what is happening and what may happen later as a result of these racist, unacceptable and illegal acts,” said Al-Maliki.