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Israel Will Open al-Aqsa again for ‘Non Muslims'

Israel Says Will Open al-Aqsa again for ‘Non Muslims’

Arafat Calls for Emergency Summit of the Islamic Conference

Israeli Public Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi Monday said that al-Aqsa Mosque compound would open “to Jews, tourists and non-Muslim pilgrims next week, even if there is no agreement with the Waqf,” thus vindicating again Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s call last week for convening an emergency summit of the Islamic Confrence Organization.

The Israeli anouncement prompted an angry response from the Waqf (Islamic trust).

Adnan Al Husseini, manager of the Waqf, or Muslim religious trust, said the minister’s statement was “an unnecessary provocation.”

He denied there was any agreement between the Waqf and the Israeli occupation police in east Jerusalem about allowing “Christian or Jewish” tourists onto the holy compound.

“The Waqf is the only authority on the site and it will ultimately decide who can enter and who can leave.”

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said it knows nothing about plans to reopen the Muslims’ third holiest site to non-Muslim visitors.

Just before the Hudna (cease-fire) took effect on June 29, Israeli police began allowing small groups of tourists, Jewish and Christian, onto the compound, which had been closed to non-Muslims by the waqf since the day after Ariel Sharon’s provcative visit in the fall of 2000, which led to the eruption of the Palestiian Intidada against the 36-year old Israeli occuaption.

But shortly later, Israeli police said they were halting the visits out of security concerns, particularly since several MPs from the right announced plans to visit the compound.

Last Thursday, Likud MP Yehiel Hazan vowed to visit the site but was stopped by police.

Police officers twice had to physically block the lawmaker from going up to the compound.

On the heels of Hazan’s decision to visit the compound, the Waqf called on all Palestinians and Muslims in Israel to “protect the al-Aqsa from attempts of Jewish extremists to force their way into the compound.”

Separately the southern West Bank city of Hebron remained under a tight closure Monday with Israeli military sources saying that the IOF imposed Sunday’s closure following warnings of a possible attack on the illegal Jewish settlers in the reoccupied city.

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) extended the closure of the Hebron’s university by another month. The university has not opened for the last six months.

Witnesses said that the university’s administration planned to hold a graduation ceremony Monday, when the closure order was due to expire. Hundreds of graduates descended on the city center Monday and some even entered the university compound.

The IOF Monday declared the Palestinian Hebron University a “closed military area” and placed look-outs on the roofs of surrounding houses and deployed a large number of troops.

Meanwhile, IOF soldiers detained five Palestinians near the northern West Bank town of Jenin, Palestinian security sources said.

The detainees, all from the town of Tubas, were taken by IOF jeeps into an unknown location after they were handcuffed and blindfolded, witnesses said.

IOF also detained three Palestinians in the West Bank overnight, two of them near Ramallah and another near Jenin, Ha’aretz reported Tuesday.

On Sunday the IOF detained teenagers Hussein Lutfi Hasan al-Nuri, 17, and Maizer Samir Abu el-Saud, 17, and his elder brother Ma’rouf near the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

In another critical blow to the Hudna early Tuesday, at least two Israelis were killed and several others were wounded, when two separate explosions hit the Israeli town of Rosh Ha’ayin and the illegal Jewish settlement of “Ariel,” in the northern West Bank.

The two attacks came after Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas warned Sunday that Israel should take the responsibility if the ceasefire collapses, because it has gone from killing to killing.

The Israeli government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon froze the “roadmap,” announced its determination to go ahead with building the Apartheid Separation Wall on occupied Palestinian Territories in the West Bank and moved to divert attention away from the implementation of the “roadmap” peace plan by warming up its northern front militarily.

Earlier on Friday, IOF troops killed four Palestinians, two of them were Hamas activists, in two military incursions into an overcrowded refugee camp, near Nablus, and Jenin town, both in the northern West Bank.

According to eyewitnesses, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), backed by armored vehicles, stormed Askar refugee camp, surrounded and shelled a civilian four-storey building, killing two Palestinians.

Witnesses said that the IOF dynamited and destroyed the targeted building, conducted house-to-house searches, placed the area under curfew and barred access to ambulances.

Following Israel’s continuous attacks, the Palestinian leadership warned Saturday that the Israeli flagrant violations of the Hudna (truce) is aimed at testing US and international reactions, and prove that Israel’s government of PM Sharon seeks to re-spark the cycle of violence and terrorism.

“The government of (Israeli PM) Sharon is testing the international and the United States reactions in particular, in order to expand its aggression, continue its policy of assassinations, military incursions and siege (imposed on Palestinian territories by the Israeli Occupation Forces “IOF”), and to continue detaining more than ten thousand Palestinians,” the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said in a statement released by the official news agency WAFA on Saturday.

The Israeli deadly violations aim at “undermining the roadmap plan,” the PLO executives added following a meeting chaired by President Arafat in his battered headquarters in the Israeli-reoccupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

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