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Aqsa Mosque Altercations Escalate, Israeli Forces Arrest Mosque Guards | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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An Israeli archeologist is accused of trying to take a stone from a pillar in an underground section of the al-Aqsa mosque [Reuters]

Ramallah- Tensions in Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem escalated following a group of Israeli settlers stormed the Islamic site for the second day. Israeli forces detained at least 11 guards of the East Jerusalem flashpoint on Tuesday, most of which are in detention under investigation.

Settlers stormed Aqsa Mosque on several intervals upon which spurred extreme tensions. Worshipers met the mob with anger before the guards intervened to prevent the settlers from carrying out ultra-orthodox Jewish “Talmudic rites” in the Bab al-Rahma area, which later evolved into a clash between the guard and the Israeli settler.

Israeli Special Forces later attacked the mosque guards and arrested one of them. Israeli police arrested 11 Palestinians within 24 hours. Six of them were arrested on premise and five were taken from their homes in a raid labeled by Aqsa Mosque Director Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani as unprecedented.

“Targeting the guards is targeting authorities … we will not permit them to encroach Endowments Department jurisdiction,” Kiswani said.

Ongoing conflict has been worsening tensions between the Islamic Waqf (Endowment authorities) and Israel over which bloc owns the right to jurisdiction over the Aqsa Mosque.

The Palestinian Authority and Jordan request that Aqsa Mosque be restored to the full management of the Waqf– as it was the case before year 2000–including religious tourism.

Islamic control still allows Jews to visit Aqsa, however limiting it to the period of allowed foreign visitation, and in restricted numbers, not on a daily basis.

Israel says it does not intend to change the status quo, but continued break-in of mobs into the mosque and the systematic targeting of guards reinforce Palestinian and Jordanian fears of Israeli plans to divide the mosque.

The fight for power led to the outbreak of a major dispute two days ago over stones in the mosque. Israeli archaeologists were stopped by the guard from trying to remove an old stone from the religious compound, which triggered the backlash of Israeli forces.

The altercation occurred on Monday morning after the guards intervened as the Israeli archaeologist, escorted by an Israeli police officer, entered the Aqsa compound and tried to take a stone from an underground section below the al-Qibli chapel in the mosque.