Heightened provocations by Jewish extremists force Hamas to retaliate escalating tensionstext_fields
Gaza: The recent escalation of tensions between Hamas and Israel is the result of the continued forcible entry into the Aqsa Mosque complex, attacking and preventing Muslim worshippers from entering the Mosque by Jewish right-wing settlers in occupied East Jerusalem.
Islamic Waqf Department reported that since Sunday, thousands of settlers have been conducting provocative tours of the mosque complex, responding to calls from ultranationalist Jewish groups.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, also known as the Temple Mount, holds immense religious significance for both Muslims and Jews. However, according to Jewish law, entering any part of the compound is forbidden for Jews due to its sacred nature. Despite this, Israeli settlers stormed the complex on Wednesday through the al-Mughrabi Gate, near the Western Wall, attempting to perform "Talmudic rituals."
Israeli police imposed age restrictions, preventing young Palestinians from entering the mosque during the incursions. Witnesses reported that the Israeli army compelled Palestinian store owners in the Old City to shut down to accommodate Jewish prayers. Furthermore, Israeli forces reportedly barred several Waqf employees from entering the holy Islamic site.
A separate incident unfolded in the Old City, as Israeli police arrested five individuals suspected of spitting towards Christians or churches. Jerusalem District Commander Doron Turgeman expressed concern over "disgraceful acts of hatred towards Christians," prompting the formation of a special investigative team to address the growing complaints of hostile gestures against the Christian community.
The arrests came amidst preparations for the annual Jerusalem March, an event that typically draws large crowds, including thousands of Christian pilgrims. The incident captured on Monday, showing ultra-Orthodox Jews spitting on the ground near a Christian tour group, drew rare outrage from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials.
This disturbing episode is part of a broader pattern of religiously motivated attacks on the city's minority Christian community. Members of the community have faced increased harassment and intimidation from Jewish ultranationalists since the establishment of Prime Minister Netanyahu's hard-right government last year.
The incident involving spitting at Christians is not an isolated one. Earlier this year, video footage surfaced showing individuals spitting at Orthodox Greek nuns outside a church. While the Israeli government, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, condemned the spitting incidents, some figures within the ultranationalist Israeli movement suggested that spitting at Christians is a legitimate Jewish tradition with a long history.
The rising tensions in Jerusalem are a cause for concern among religious leaders, including the Vatican-appointed Latin Patriarch, who has expressed worry over the escalating harassment faced by the region's 2,000-year-old Christian community. With roughly 15,000 Christians residing in Jerusalem today, the international community closely watches as the city grapples with the complex interplay of religious sensitivities, political tensions, and the ongoing struggle for control over sacred sites.