Israeli far-right groups call for takeover of Al-Aqsa

Israeli right-wing Zionist organisations and political figures call on Israeli government to take control of Al-Aqsa Mosque from Palestinians

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Protests across occupied Palestinian territories have been triggered by increased Israeli incursions in Al Aqsa Mosque compound

Israeli right-wing Zionist organisations and political figures have called for Israel to take control of the Muslim holy site of Al-Aqsa Mosque, as the Israeli government has agreed on a deal to calm the ongoing unrest caused by disputes between Muslims and Jews over the compound.  

Jews refer to the site as the Temple Mount and increasing Israeli raids in the mosque have provoked Palestinians to protest across the Occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

Even though Jews were formally banned from praying in the Mosque, they are escorted by Israeli forces during their visits to the holy site.

The hardline right-wing Zionist group known as Returning to the Mount, said this week that it would provide 2,000 shekels ($516) to Jewish-Israelis detained while praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Raphael Morris, head of Returning to the Mount, accused the Israeli government of imposing "ruthless restrictions" on Israeli Jews while speaking to Israel’s Channel 2 on Tuesday.

"We are not prepared [to let] the situation deteriorate."

The Times of Israel news website also reported Morris as saying, "We must act not only to end the slide, but moreover for the addition of rights for Jews on the mount, the first of which is prayer."  

The right-wing group’s Facebook page is also full of posts calling on the Israeli government to destroy the mosque and replace it with a Jewish temple.  

The provocative call was made following clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces around the compound.

Since the wave of violence - the worst one since the 2014 Gaza war -  began early in October, at least 62 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Out of the 62 Palestinians killed, only 35 were armed with knives, and in some cases with guns, Israel said. The rest were killed during protests. Many of them were teenagers.

During the incidents, 11 Israelis have also been killed in stabbings and shootings.

International human rights organisation, Amnesty International, criticised Israeli forces on Wednesday for using “extreme and unlawful measures."

It described the killings of some Palestinians as "extrajudicial executions," saying the victims did not pose an imminent threat to Israeli security forces at the time of their death.

Also on Tuesday, a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ultra-nationalist Likud party and Israeli Deputy Minister Tzipi Hotovely said the compound of Al Aqsa is "the centre of Israeli sovereignty, the capital of Israel."

Netanyahu's office later responded with a statement saying that "non-Muslims visit the Temple Mount [Al-Aqsa compound]" but are not permitted to pray there.  

Right-wing Israelis campaign against Al-Aqsa

Last month, the Temple Mount and Eretz Yisrael Faithful movement advocated the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque in rallies.

The group also released a statement calling on Jews to take control of the Temple Mount, which is "in the hands of Israel's enemies". 

"We will stop the Islamisation of the Temple Mount and the construction of more mosques," it read, adding that Israeli forces will provide the marchers with protection. 

According to a December 2014 report by the Jerusalem based group Ir Amim, several political figures of the Israeli government and members of Netanyahu's Likud party are supporting the Temple Mount movements and continuously advancing their program in the Knesset

The report also found that Netanyahu has "refrained from confronting them publicly or from commenting on the destructive impact of their actions."

Ir Amim describes these reports "as a central stage for backing extreme right Temple movement activists" and "a platform for right-wing Knesset members to level criticism at authorities responsible for security" at the holy site.   

Between May 2013 and October 2014, the Knesset Interior Committee organised at least 14 different discussions regarding access for Jews to the Mosque compound.

TRTWorld and agencies