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Dr. Ashrawi: Jerusalem is under a triple Israeli assault

The Palestinian leadership condemns in the strongest of terms the storming of the holy Al-Aqsa mosque compound this Sunday morning by hundreds of extremist Israeli settlers under the protection of Israeli occupation forces. We also condemn the Israeli occupation forces’ violent assault on dozens of Palestinian worshipers and the detention of several others during the course of this highly provocative raid.

Through these inflammatory and irresponsible actions, Israel is attempting to normalize the unacceptable raids of Israeli settlers and the restrictions imposed on the right to freedom of worship for Palestinian Muslims, especially during these holy Ramadan days. This is a dangerous and irresponsible course of action that exacerbating religious tensions and threatens to further destabilize the situation on the ground.

Israel has kept Jerusalem hostage to its illegal practices and de facto separation from the rest of the occupied Palestinian Territory for fifty-two years by imposing severe restrictions on Palestinians’ access to Jerusalem and its Christian and Muslim holy sites. To achieve this de facto separation, Israel employs a triple siege of expanding illegal settlements, the annexation wall, and checkpoints in addition ongoing demolitions of Palestinian homes and other practices that deny Palestinians access to Jerusalem and undermine the fabric of society, including access to family, as well as cultural, economic, and health institutions. They are part of a comprehensive policy aimed at changing the reality and demography of the holy city of Jerusalem, with the full support and aid from the U.S Trump administration and silence from the international community. Meanwhile, Israeli occupation authorities and the American administration have willfully participated in spreading falsehoods about religious freedom and freedom of worship in an attempt to shield Israel from the required international rebuke for these unacceptable policies and practices.

The international community has a responsibility to confront these practices, including the recent approval of over 800 settlement units that would complete the ring of settlements surrounding Jerusalem and separating it from its natural Palestinian surrounding. Responsible actors must also prevent a downward spiral into religious tensions that the extremist ideology of the fundamentalist rightwing in Israel is provoking in Jerusalem.

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