Hamas is calling for mass prayer rallies on Friday at the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and in the Cave of the (Jewish) Patriarchs in Hebron (Maarat Hamachpelah) and other mosques in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip in protest against “Israeli Judaization schemes” at the two sites.
Hamas accused Israel in its press release announcing the prayer rallies of “atrociously beating, arresting, and threatening” Muslims and conducting renovations along the southern wall of the Temple Mount, as well as distancing visitors from the eastern Gate of Mercy, where the Jordanian Waqf attempted to build an illegal mosque last year.
Hamas also decried the phenomenon of Israeli Jews “trespassing” on the site.
Jordan’s Petra news agency reported on Thursday that Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount had “performed Talmudic rituals”
Approximately 30,000 Jewish “fanatics” stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque throughout 2019, Azzam Khatib, the director of the Islamic Waqf in Jerusalem, told the Palestinian WAFA news agency earlier this month.
“All signs and data indicate an escalation in the frequency of violations against the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque and its surroundings during this year through a series of unprecedented trespasses, which constitute an infringement on the historical and legal status of the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque as an Islamic mosque for Muslims alone under the patronage of King Abdullah II [of Jordan],” said Khatib.
According to a power-sharing agreement inked between Jordan and Israel after the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel has security control over the Temple Mount, while the Islamic Waqf maintains religious control.
The Waqf exercises its authority by forbidding Jews from performing any form of religious worship on the site, including carrying prayer books, prayer shawls, or other religious objects, and even instituted a law whereby Jews were forbidden from moving their lips or bowing in prayer.
Israeli police have reduced their enforcement of the ban against prayer in recent months.