Al-Aqsa Mosque a ‘flashpoint’ in the fight to end Israeli occupation of Palestine

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THE ISRAELI refusal to remove metal detectors from the outside of the Jerusalem compound which contains the al-Aqsa Mosque is fast becoming a flashpoint in the fight against Zionist occupation as Palestinians rise up against Israeli attempts to impose complete domination over the city.

The metal detectors, along with sophisticated security cameras, were unilaterally introduced by the Israelis to control and dominate what along with being the holiest site in Palestine is also at the very centre of Palestinian national identity.

Along with all the illegal settlements it is another step towards driving Palestinians out of their towns, holy sites and their own land through an unrelenting campaign of violence, murder and intimidation.

Last Friday, thousands of worshippers attending for prayers at the mosque refused to obey the restrictions imposed and pass through the metal detectors on the grounds that this would legitimise Israel’s decision to change the status quo of the compound.

The status quo gives Muslims religious control over the compound and Jews the right to visit but not to pray there. Existing restrictions imposed by the Israelis already make it difficult or impossible for many Palestinians to enter the al-Aqsa compound.

Since 1994, the Muslim and Christian sites in the Jerusalem compound have been under the joint custodianship of the state of Jordan. By their unilateral action in imposing these so-called security measures along with the forcible closure of the site for two days and arbitrarily cancelling Friday prayers, the Israeli occupiers are tearing up this internationally recognised agreement and proclaiming themselves sole sovereign ruler of occupied East Jerusalem.

Instead of crossing the metal detectors, thousands peacefully demonstrated and prayed in the streets outside the gates to the compound, only to be attacked by heavily armed Israeli police and soldiers.

Large-scale demonstrations by Palestinians were met with tear gas and bullets, with three Palestinians reported as being killed as clashes broke out across East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, at least 450 Palestinians have been injured in East Jerusalem and the West Bank since last Friday. Not just the Israeli armed forces were involved in the killings; a Palestinian teenager was shot dead by an Israeli settler, while pictures are circulating showing Israeli settlers on rooftops aiming their weapons at Palestinian demonstrators.

According to reporters at the scene, the bodies of those killed had to be rushed out of hospitals to avoid Israeli forces seizing them, which they routinely do, in order to hold on to the remains of dead Palestinians to prevent burial and to use their bodies as bargaining chips.

The practice of Israeli forces raiding hospitals to snatch wounded Palestinians from their beds to intern them is commonplace practice by the brutal Israeli occupation forces. Israeli violence has spread to Jordan where thousands demonstrated on Friday night demanding the removal of the metal detectors as anger amongst Jordanians towards Israel has risen to the point of explosion.

This anger has been vastly increased with the news that an Israeli security guard at the heavily protected Israeli embassy complex in Amman shot and killed two Jordanian men working for a furniture firm on Sunday.

This latest provocation at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound is making the Palestinian people and their supporters throughout the world more than ever determined to stand firm and fight for the establishment of the independent state of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital.

In this fight UK workers have a duty to give their full support and assistance. In 1917, the UK government through the notorious Balfour Declaration pledged to hand over Palestine to the Zionists and ever since then British governments have fully supported every act of repression carried out against the Palestinian people.

The British working class owe a debt to the Palestinian people for this betrayal, that must be paid by kicking out the Tories and replacing them with a workers government that will immediately recognise the independent State of Palestine and render it every support it requires, including economic, political and military, in order to guarantee its future.