18 July-2014: Clashes erupted in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound after Friday prayers, where Palestinians had…
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reiterated Ankara’s stern position on an Israeli incursion into the Noble Sanctuary, which houses al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest place, declaring that the Israeli attack on the mosque is tantamount to an attack on Turkey.
Speaking in Algeria, Erdoğan said, “Israel’s barbaric attack on al-Aqsa Mosque is tantamount to an attack on Turkey and Algeria because al-Aqsa Mosque belongs to all of us.”
Addressing Turkish and Algerian businessmen at a joint business forum, the president said they cannot remain indifferent to both the Israeli incursion as well as the “Palestinian cause.” In a bid to justify his Middle East policies, often regarded as an intervention into domestic affairs of neighboring nations, Erdoğan said the problems of Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Syria, similar to Palestine, need to be handled “as a whole” and in a “brotherly sense.”
Turkey had previously strongly condemned the Israeli incursion into the Noble Sanctuary and called on other Muslim countries to display a joint position to protest the actions of Israel, currently at odds with Turkish government.
In recent weeks, Palestinians have clashed with police at the holy site, sometimes in response to visits by Jewish worshippers. The visits have stoked fears and rumors among Palestinians that Israel intends to alter decades-old arrangements regarding access to the holy site, something Israel adamantly denies.
Long-simmering animosity has boiled over into violent Palestinian protests and attacks that have killed six people, including a baby, and injured more than a dozen others.
Much of the violence stems from tensions surrounding the Jerusalem holy site referred to by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, and it is their third holiest site, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
The site is so holy that Jews have traditionally refrained from going there, instead praying at the adjacent Western Wall. Israel’s chief rabbis have urged people not to ascend to the area, arguing that the temple’s former location on the mount is unclear and Jews could inadvertently enter the holiest area of the once-standing temple, where it was forbidden to tread.
But in recent years, a small but growing number of Jews, including ultranationalist lawmakers, have begun regularly visiting the site.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently called for Jews to be banned from the Jerusalem holy site, urging Palestinians to guard the compound against them visiting.
Muslim authorities reporting to Jordan have continued to administer the site since east Jerusalem’s capture by Israel in 1967. Jews are allowed to visit, but may not pray there. Muslim worshippers view Jewish prayer at the site as a provocation, and Israeli authorities place tough restrictions on it.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that Israel has no plans to change the arrangements at the holy site.