Muslim Leaders Condemn Israel for 'Barbaric Attacks' Against Al-Aqsa Worshippers

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Israeli police stand in front of the Dome of the Rock during clashes with Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem's Old City, yesterday.
Israeli police stand in front of the Dome of the Rock during clashes with Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem's Old City, yesterday.Credit: AMMAR AWAD/ REUTERS

A gathering of representatives of Muslim nations has condemned Israel for the outbreak of violence in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, one of the holiest sites in Islam.

The emergency meeting of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation was held on Tuesday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to present a unified response from the Muslim world to the soaring tensions between Israel and the Palestinians and the latest violent confrontations in Jerusalem.

In a communiqué, the meeting denounced Israel’s “continuous violations” of the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, “barbaric attacks” against worshippers and movement restrictions on Palestinians at the compound. It said that it considered the Israeli actions a “provocation of the feelings of Muslims around the world and serious violation of international law.”

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It called on the international community to hold Israel liable for the escalation and to press it to halt attacks that threaten “the security and stability of the region.” It also reaffirmed the long-standing Arab stance of support for an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.

In light of events in Jerusalem, Egypt declared its "total rejection and condemnation of these oppressive Israeli practices," Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told the League.

Turkey also condemned the Israeli air strikes.

"The Israeli government must finally understand that it will not be able to suppress the Palestinian people's legitimate rights and demands by using indiscriminate and disproportionate power," the Turkish foreign ministry said.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Palestinians on Tuesday to build up their fighting power to stop Israel's "brutality", saying Israelis "only understand the language of force", Iran's state TV reported.

"Zionists understand nothing but the language of force, so the Palestinians must increase their power and resistance to force the criminals to surrender and stop their brutal acts," Ayatollah Khamenei said.

Israel intensified its air strikes on Gaza on Tuesday as rocket barrages hit Israeli towns for a second day in a deepening conflict in which at least 28 people in the Palestinian enclave and two in Israel have been killed.

On Monday, the United Nations Security Council held emergency consultations Monday on escalating violence in east Jerusalem and was considering a proposed statement calling on Israel to cease evictions and calling for “restraint” and respect for “the historic status quo at the holy sites.”

Ireland’s UN ambassador, Geraldine Byrne Nason, who joined in calling for the emergency meeting, said that “the Security Council should urgently speak out, and we hope that it will be able to do so today.”

Council diplomats said all 15 members expressed concern at the clashes and rising violence but the United States, Israel’s closest ally, said a statement might not be useful at this time.

Also on Monday, the United States strongly condemned the rocket fire from Gaza toward Israel, describing it as an "unacceptable escalation."

Prior to meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the United States is "deeply concerned" both about the rocket attacks from Gaza "that need to stop immediately," and the "violence, provocative actions in and around the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount."

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