Hamas warns against Israeli settlers' plan to 'storm' Al-Aqsa Mosque
Gaza, May 15 (IANS) Hamas, the militant organisation ruling the Gaza Strip, has warned against what it calls Israeli settlers' plan to "storm" the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem.
Earlier in the day, the Jewish Temple Mount groups called on Jews to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Sunday to celebrate the annual Second Passover holiday, which this year coincides with the Nakba Day, or Day of the Catastrophe, marked by the Palestinians on May 15 every year, the day after Israel's declaration of independence in 1948, Xinhua news agency reported.
"Allowing the so-called Temple Mount groups to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Sunday when the Palestinians mark their 74th Nakba Day is a dangerous escalation and constitutes a provocation toward the feelings of our people," Hazem Qassem, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, told reporters.
This "would spark an open clash with the Israeli occupation forces ... and Israel would be fully responsible for the consequences," he said.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, is held as a holy site in both Islam and Judaism.
Qassem also called on Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Israel to gather at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Sunday to confront the "storming" plan by the Israeli settlers.
In April, when the Jewish Passover holiday coincided with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound witnessed fierce clashes between Palestinian worshippers and the Israeli police over the Jewish visit to the holy site.
The continuing high tensions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound raise concerns about a possible military confrontation between armed Palestinian factions and Israel similar to the large-offensive offensive launched by Israel on the Gaza Strip in May 2021.
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel together with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war, as the capital of their future independent state.