A senior Hamas leader has warned that Israel plans to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Al-Quds to build a new temple in its place.
On Sunday, the mosque compound was the scene of violent clashes for the second time in recent weeks after Israeli police invaded the compound and arrested 12 Arab worshippers.
“It is the first step towards dividing the mosque, a prelude to demolishing it and building a temple in its place,” said Hamas political leader Khalid Meshaal in a speech in Damascus.
“Jerusalem belongs to its Arab inhabitants, Muslims and Christians. The future (of the city) will not be settled at the negotiating table, but on the ground of confrontation and resistance,” AFP quoted Meshaal as saying.
The Organization for Human Rights on the Temple Mount (OHRTM), a rightist Israeli group, in a meeting on Sunday had called for a new temple to be built in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
The conference was attended by a number of Knesset members and leading rabbis, Ynet news reported.
Tensions have been high over the past month and the compound has been the scene of fighting after Israeli extremists, backed by Israel’s police force, tried to enter the mosque and clashed with Palestinian worshipers.
Israeli police also denied Palestinians access to the mosque compound for a period of several days.
The blockade was followed by demonstrations in numerous Middle Eastern countries including Iran and Turkey, which resulted in the re-opening of the mosque two weeks ago.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference has also warned Israel of “dangerous consequences” for acts of sacrilege in the holy Al-Aqsa mosque compound.