Al-Aqsa Imam to 100,000 Worshipers: Al-Aqsa in Danger

January 3, 1998 - 0:0
BAIT-UL-MOQADDAS Over 100,000 Palestinian Muslims flocked into Bait-ul-Moqaddas' Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to attend the first weekly Friday prayers of Ramazan as Israeli police were on high alert in the holy city. Palestinians entered Bait-ul-Moqaddas from the West Bank for the prayers and Israel deployed hundreds of reinforcements in the area. In his sermon to worshipers, Sheikh Hamed al-Beitawi issued a dire warning to Israel after two jewish extremists were arrested last week for planning to desecrate Al-Aqsa, Islam's third holiest site in Bait-ul-Moqaddas Old City. Al-Aqsa is in danger.

Israel, its people, its government and especially (Israeli Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu have a dangerous intention to destroy Al-Aqsa, Beitawi said. But I send them a warning message: The destruction of Al-Aqsa will mean the destruction of Israel. We will not stay silent over any attempt on our holy places, he said. Israeli police 12 days ago arrested two Jewish extremists for plotting to throw the head of a pig considered an unclean animal by Muslims and Jews on to the mosque compound during Ramazan in hopes of sparking riots.

Security forces have warned of a possible upsurge of provocations by far-right Jewish groups hoping to scuttle a promised army withdrawal in the West Bank, and on Wednesday a court banned one underground extremist group. Israeli police, armed with batons and riot gear, were deployed over the walls and alleyways of the Old City and throughout East Bait-ul-Moqaddas. On the occasion of the first weekly prayers for Ramazan, the holy month when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, Israel lifted the ban on West Bank Palestinians from entering Bait-ul-Moqaddas for most of the morning.