Hundreds of Israeli police, armed with tear gas, stun guns and batons raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem last Friday. The police entered in force before dawn, as thousands were gathered at the mosque for early morning prayers. Worshippers ran or resisted as best they could, throwing food, stones and rocks at police. Medics reported at least 158 Palestinians were injured as hundreds were detained.
The Al-Aqsa mosque has been a sacred place to Muslims for over 1400 years, comparable to the importance to Christians of St. Peter’s cathedral in Rome. It is also an important symbol of Palestinian nationalism and resistance to Israel’s continued expansion and take over of Jerusalem.
Allegedly, the police were there to push out Palestinians and allow Jewish extremists to enter the compound.
Since Israel took over the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967, its official policy has been to “Judaize” Jerusalem, by gradually pushing Palestinians out and encouraging Jewish settlers to move it. The move to push Palestinians out of the Al -Aqsa mosque is a part of this process.
NCCM calls on Canadian Government to act
“The reports, videos and photos emerging from Jerusalem are absolutely clear. Israeli forces violated the internationally recognized sanctity of the Al Aqsa Mosque, one of the most sacred sites for Muslims worldwide. They attacked Palestinian worshippers as they prayed peacefully during Ramadan. This pattern of attacks during Ramadan every year in the recent past are an egregious violation of international law and must be condemned.” wrote NCCM Chief Executive Officer Mustapha Farooq.
Farooq followed up his statement by sending a letter to Canada’s foreign affairs minister Melanie Joly, demanding she take action, and urging MCCM members to do likewise. “Last year, Canada condemned Israel’s settlement expansion and incursions on Al Aqsa. This year, there were more illegal settlements and more incursions on Al Aqsa. The government needs to set clearly a vision for how to deal with flagrant human rights violations committed by its ally,” said Farooq.
Canada missing in action… again
Officially, Canadian law does not recognize Israel’s control over any of East Jerusalem, including the al-Aqsa mosque. There is no legitimate reason for Israeli police to enter the mosque. But instead of condemning the incursion, so far Minister Melanie Joly can only call for “de-escalation of tensions”. In the circumstances, that could only mean that if armed Israeli police enter one of the holiest Muslim mosques, she thinks the Palestinians should leave peacefully.
CBC Pitchbot mockingly reinterpreted Canada’s “evenhanded” approach this way:
What it really means is this: “Canada calls on both sides to de-escalate in Jerusalem. We respect Palestinians’ right to worship in peace, and we also respect Israel’s right to attack and desecrate Al-Aqsa mosque.”
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.
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