by Taylor Luck, Jordan Times.
Despite issuing a series of warnings of escalating tensions in recent weeks, custodians claim they have been left defenceless partly due to Arab inaction towards what they claim to be the greatest threat to face Al Aqsa Mosque in decades.
‘Occupy Al Aqsa’
In contrast to the furor and international attention that accompanied Israeli plans for Bab Al Magharbeh and excavations underneath Jerusalem, activists say relative silence has met a development they claim has a far greater impact than the destruction of a temporary wooden bridge.
The greatest danger to the third holiest site in Islam comes not in the form of a bulldozer or underground drilling, they say, but the hammer and gavel.
An Israeli supreme court order earlier this month upheld the right of non-Muslims to pray in Al Aqsa Mosque, a move custodians claim will accelerate attempts by right-wing Israelis to implement designs to convert the holy site into the so-called Third Temple.
“The greatest threat facing Al Aqsa Mosque is the provocative attempts by Israeli right-wing extremists to storm the mosque, which are growing by the number and frequency each week,” warned Azzam Khatib, director of the Jerusalem Awqaf Department.
While custodians hold the Israeli government responsible for the “creation and outcomes” of the campaign to storm Al Aqsa, several senior members of the ruling Likud Party are at the forefront of the efforts.
The awqaf officials say Arab states’ carry part of the blame for the emerging crisis by failing to bring the case to the international community’s attention.
Despite drawing condemnation by several Arab and Islamic governments last week, activists say the regional response to attempts by right-wing Israelis to “occupy” Al Aqsa has been “underwhelming”.
“Unfortunately, despite all our warnings over the past weeks and months, Arab and Islamic states have not taken this cause seriously and now we are paying the price,” said Zaki Tawfiq, director of Al Aqsa Foundation for Awqaf and Heritage, an Israel-based Islamic heritage watchdog.
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