RAMALLAH: The Israeli army has allowed settlers to organize the largest demonstration in the northern West Bank in years on April 10, in which dozens of settler organizations will participate.
The Israeli Channel Seven reported that the army agreed to a request by the Nakhla settler organization to hold a massive demonstration that would start from the Za’tara checkpoint, south of Nablus, and proceed toward the Avitar settlement outpost built on Mount Sabih, where the army would provide security for the march.
The channel said that the demonstration would take place in conjunction with the Jewish Passover holiday on April 10 and that it would see the participation of rabbis, ministers and Knesset members, among others.
Dozens of Jewish organizations announced their participation in the march, including Yisrael Sheli, Ad Kan, Habitkhonisten, the Sovereign Movement, the Bnei Akiva Youth Movement, Ezra Variel, Beitar Organization, and others.
The participants will demand that the Israeli government fulfill its commitment to allow settlers to return to the Avitar outpost after the Israeli Civil Administration finishes surveying the land.
Ghassan Daglas, an official for settlement issues affiliated with the Palestinian presidency, told Arab News that the settlers were putting pressure on their government to legalize the settlement outpost that they wanted to establish on land owned by Palestinians, benefiting from the presence of extreme right-wing ministers in the government.
“We will not meet them with flowers if they return to Jabal Abu Sbeih, but rather with popular demonstrations and protests. This is the land owned by the Palestinians, and they are trying to seize it by force,” Daglas told Arab News.
Over the past month, extremist settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties have increased.
In a significant development, on Thursday, the Shin Bet security agency announced it arrested two settlers who attacked a Palestinian family on the eve of the Jewish Purim holiday in the town of Huwara while they were in a vehicle outside a retail store.
According to a Shin Bet statement, the detainees threw stones at the vehicle from a short distance, and one of them used an axe to break the vehicle’s windows and attack its passengers.
After interrogating them, the security agency filed against them charges of deliberately committing a terrorist act for racist motives.
Shin Bet accused the two of belonging to a group of violent settlers working to attack Palestinians and disrupt the activities of the Israeli army to thwart Palestinian attacks.
Daglas said these activities would only cause tensions to escalate, threatening people’s lives in the region.
Meanwhile, settler incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque continued on Thursday following calls by the Temple Movements.
Seventy-three settlers stormed the mosque on Thursday, under the protection of the Israeli police. Some of them performed prayers there.
The Har-El youth organization announced their plan to storm Al-Aqsa Mosque next Sunday to celebrate Aliya Day, which symbolizes the Jewish diaspora’s return to Palestine.
Har-El called on its followers to storm the mosque wearing blue shirts bearing the inscriptions of the temple and said that this would be followed by mass incursions by other groups.
These groups called on their supporters to bring sacrificial animals to slaughter them at 10:30 p.m. inside Al-Aqsa Mosque on the evening of next Wednesday.
The organizations referred to their announcement as a declaration of a “state of emergency,” calling on all their supporters to “not miss the Passover Eucharist” at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
In a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir, 15 rabbis demanded that settlers be allowed to offer the Passover sacrifices in Al-Aqsa Mosque this year. They called on the Israeli government to “exploit Israel’s control over Al-Aqsa Mosque and allow sacrifices inside it.”
In the letter, they claimed that allowing sacrifices inside Al-Aqsa Mosque was “a national interest of the first order for Israel.” They demanded the achievement of this goal “despite all odds.”
Among the rabbis who signed the letter were Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, who heads the so-called Temple Institute, one of the groups calling for the construction of a temple on the ruins of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and Rabbi Yehuda Kreuzer, the rabbi of the Mitzvah Yericho settlement, who led the settlers as they stormed the mosque.
Last year, the extremist Minister of Finance and Settlement Bezalel Smotrich expressed his sympathy for Jews trying to offer sacrifices at Al-Aqsa, posting a picture of himself inside his car carrying a goat to show his support.
Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, the mufti of Jerusalem and the Islamic holy land, told Arab News that extremist settlers and their associations had no right to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque or to practice their Jewish religious rituals in it, “as it is a place purely for Muslims.”
He said: “Still, Israel seeks to Judaize the holy place and control Al-Aqsa, which represents a provocation to the feelings of millions of Muslims around the world.
“Our Palestinian people and Muslims across the world do not want Al-Aqsa Mosque to be a scene for the superstitions of Jewish extremists and the desecration of Islamic religious values,” he added, holding the Israeli government responsible for the raids and their dangerous repercussions.
“We cannot submit to the diktats of settlement associations. Settlers feel supported by extremist ministers in the government, so they are escalating their threats against Al-Aqsa Mosque,” he said.