OIC Calls For Emergency Meet to Discuss Al Aqsa

The OIC General Secretariat strongly condemned Israeli minister’s visit at Al Aqsa calling it “a provocation of Muslim sentiments and a flagrant violation of relevant international resolutions.”…reports Asian Lite News

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation will hold an extraordinary open-ended meeting of its Executive Committee in Jeddah on Tuesday to discuss Israeli attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The meeting follows escalating Israeli activity in occupied Jerusalem, most notably a “provocative” visit by Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to the mosque compound on Tuesday.

The OIC General Secretariat strongly condemned the visit on Tuesday, calling it “a provocation of Muslim sentiments and a flagrant violation of relevant international resolutions.”

Meanwhile, experts have said that the controversial visit of Israeli Minister to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem, which has sparked wide condemnation and criticism from the Arab world, might have limited negative impact on Israel’s ties with Arab countries.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman of the Palestinian presidency, on Tuesday slammed the visit as “a challenge to the Palestinian people, the Arab nation, and the international community,” warning that these provocations against sanctities will lead to more tension, violence and explosive conditions.

A rocket was launched toward Israel from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday evening, but later fell within the strip.

Jordan summoned the Israeli ambassador and delivered a strongly-worded protest message. Other Arab countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Oman and Libya, as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council, all condemned Ben-Gvir’s behavior.

Michael Milshtein, head of the Palestinian Studies Forum at the Tel Aviv University, warned that Ben-Gvir’s visit may heighten the tensions with the Palestinians and increase the chance of various security incidents in the near future, including individual attacks, mass riots and rocket strikes from Gaza.

“All of these have the potential to lead to a broad and relatively rapid escalation,” he added.

But Gadi Hitman, a Palestinian expert at the Ariel University, said that compared to the visit of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the flashpoint site in 2000 which trigged the second Palestinian armed uprising, the circumstances between Israel and Palestine have significantly changed.

“People may expect some quiet in the region if everything goes smoothly in the upcoming days,” he told Xinhua.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday postponed his visit to the UAE planned for next week, in a move that was widely seen as a result of Ben-Gvir’s action, though Netanyahu denied any connection between the two developments.

“Obviously, Arab countries do not like Ben-Gvir’s decision, but so far, I don’t see any harsh reaction from these states,” said Hitman, adding that certain Arab states are not likely to cancel their peace accords with Israel.

Yonatan Freeman, an international relations expert at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told Xinhua that due to the great mutual benefit, it is in the interest of both Israel and the Arab world to maintain or expand diplomatic ties.

Freeman said that even Israel and Saudi Arabia have the desire to improve ties as they face common challenges, notably the threat from Iran. “Thus, despite the condemnations, Ben-Gvir’s visit is not likely to stifle the progress being made between the two countries,” he noted.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the most sacred place, is regarded by Muslims as their third holiest site. It has been administered by the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a Jordanian body, since 1948. Under a 1967 agreement between Israel and Jordan, non-Muslim worshippers can visit the compound but are prohibited from praying there.

4.6-km wall around Gaza Strip

Israel has started to build a 4.6-km-long wall around the Gaza Strip to protect Israeli communities in its vicinity from fire from the coastal Palestinian enclave, the Israeli Defence Ministry said on Thursday.

“Work has begun on a security corridor project adjacent to the Gaza Strip, with the aim of concealing roads to allow residents to drive around safely in times of emergency without fear of counterfire from the Gaza Strip,” the ministry said in a statement.

The wall is being built along two highways near Gaza. Bicycle lanes will also be constructed as part of the project, according to the ministry.

“The project will enable the residents to live a normal life during a security escalation,” Elad Cohen, the project manager at Netivei Israel, a government-owned roads company that builds parts of the wall, was quoted as saying in the statement.

The ministry estimates that the wall will be completed by the summer of 2023.

Israel has already built on-ground and underground barriers to prevent Palestinians in Gaza from entering Israel. However, during clashes, militants in Gaza often fire rockets and gunfire at Israel’s southern communities. 

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