Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the highest seat of learning in the Sunni Islamic world, condemned a series of violations by Israel, including detention of Palestinians and raids on Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
In a statement on Friday, Al-Azhar said it supports
Palestinians in Jerusalem against the arbitrary practices of Israel — such as
the closure of Al-Aqsa doors — adding that these violations cannot be
The statement also called for urgent action — including political and legal steps — against Israel’s violations and support for the Palestinian people to establish an independent state.
Tension has mounted in Jerusalem since last week when Israeli police shut the Al-Aqsa mosque compound’s Al-Rahma Gate, preventing Palestinian worshippers from entering the site and sparking angry demonstrations.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.
In late 2000, a visit to Al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the “Second Intifada,” a five-year-long popular uprising in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.