Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s Executive Committee, said today that Israel’s contempt for freedom of worship must be confronted.
“Once again, Israel is bent on demonstrating its contempt for freedom of worship and religions, as demonstrably clear in its increased violations of the Palestinian people’s freedom of worship, especially in occupied Jerusalem,” said Ashrawi in a statement.
She stressed that, “Israel is taking concerted and systematic efforts to execute its land grab plans accompanied by actions aimed at muting Palestinian voices, erasing Palestinian presence and stoking the fires of sectarian discord. This, in summary, is what is taking place in Jerusalem, Hebron, and across the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It is dangerous, highly insidious, and discriminatory.”
Most recently, Israel has issued orders forbidding worshipers, prominent Palestinian figures, activists, and journalists from setting foot in the al-Aqsa Mosque Compound. This most provocative and illegal order was issued against the grand preacher of the Al-Aqsa mosque, Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, who has been forbidden by Israel to enter the holy site for 4 months, said the statement.
Over the past two weeks, Israeli occupation authorities have banned dozens of Palestinians from access to the al-Aqsa Mosque Compound and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, while facilitating provocative raids by illegal Israeli settlers into the Al-Aqsa Compound and providing protection for their infringements on the holy site.
The situation is equally inflammatory in Hebron, where Israeli occupation forces are barring Palestinian worshipers from performing their prayers in the Ibrahimi Mosque and banning the call for prayer 54 times last month alone, while allowing Israeli settlers unrestricted access.
She maintained that Jerusalem’s special status and centrality to world heritage must be protected from such hateful acts.
“Freedom of worship is also a fundamental right that must not be used as a tool of political repression and colonial aspirations. Israel’s actions in this regard must be confronted and stopped. This is a legal, moral, and political duty incumbent upon all responsible international actors,” said the statement.