The Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem has been closed to all worshipers for the first time since 1967. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called the closure a ‘declaration of war.’
Both Jewish and Muslim worshipers will be prohibited from visiting the site “until further notice,” Israel’s public security minister said. Following the announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered “a significant hike” in the number of police forces patrolling Jerusalem, Naharnet daily reports.
Palestinian authorities quickly responded to the move, saying it was a “dangerous and blatant challenge” that would lead to more tension and instability in an already volatile situation.
“This dangerous Israeli escalation is a declaration of war on the Palestinian people and its sacred places and on the Arab and Islamic nation,” Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina quoted him as saying.
“We hold the Israeli government responsible for this dangerous escalation in Jerusalem that has reached its peak through the closure of the Al-Aqsa mosque this morning,” he told AFP.
He added that the state of Palestinian would employ all legal means to “hold Israel accountable” and put an end to “these ongoing attacks.”
Omar Al-Kiswani, director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, told RT the decision to close the site was very dangerous and irrational, saying it would lead to destabilization and a strengthening of tensions not only in Jerusalem, but in the entire region. He said the situation in Jerusalem has been turbulent as a result of the closure.