Jordan has renewed warnings to Israel over violations at Al Aqsa Mosque, calling on Arab and Muslim states to ensure the protection of the third holiest site in Islam.
In a statement published by Al Rai newspaper on Sunday, Awqaf Minister Hayel Dawood warned of increasing Israeli “violations” at Al Aqsa Mosque, noting that awqaf authorities have recorded 139 “grave violations” of the holy site since January 2012, of which, 39 were at the disputed Bab Al Magharbeh gate alone.
In the statement, Dawood accused Tel Aviv of carrying out a “step-by-step” strategy to exert control over Al Aqsa Mosque complex which is under Israeli Occupation since 1967.
The minister also accused Israel of dispatching security forces and plainclothes officers to facilitate the entry of hundreds of hardline Jewish extremists, which poses a direct breach of the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty and international conventions.
Dawood criticised Israeli authorities for continuing to prevent Jordanian and international technical teams from assessing and carrying out repairs at the holy site, calling for “immediate emergency assistance” from Arab and Muslim states to bring an end to the “dangerous attacks” on Al Aqsa.
The minister added that around $100 million is urgently needed to renovate and maintain the mosque, noting that the government spends JD6 million every year on the salaries of the Jerusalem awqaf department’s 560 employees.
The remarks came as dozens of Jewish extremists stormed Al Aqsa Mosque on Sunday, with Jerusalem awqaf officials accusing Israeli authorities of facilitating the “provocative violation”.
Azzam Khatib, director of the Jerusalem awqaf department, told The Jordan Times that tens of Jewish hard-liners were escorted by Israeli security forces into Al Aqsa Mosque on Sunday, the latest in a series of forced entries the holy site is facing on a “daily basis”.
“Occupation authorities are escorting tens of right-wing extremists into Al Haram Al Sharif each day who wish to destroy Al Aqsa Mosque and turn the site into a temple,” Khatib said, noting that awqaf authorities have recorded 10 forced entries this month alone.
“If the Israeli government does not stop these blatant violations soon, they may spark violence that nobody can control.”
The statements mark the second Jordanian warning to Israel over Al Aqsa in less then a month.
In November, officials warned Israel over a proposal presented in the Israeli Knesset to establish a Jewish prayer section within the Noble Sanctuary and place the site under the control of the Israeli religious affairs ministry, with Jordan rejecting an official request from Tel Aviv to allow Jewish worshippers at the site.
Jordan and the Hashemite Royal Family act as custodians of Islamic and Christian sites in Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied territories — a historic custodianship enshrined in the 1994 Jordanian-Israeli Wadi Araba peace treaty and respected by international law.
In October, UNESCO overwhelmingly approved a joint initiative by Jordan and Palestine compelling Israel to recognise Jordan’s custodianship of Islamic sites in the occupied territories, allow awqaf teams access to the site and dispatching monitoring teams to ensure Tel Aviv’s abidance by international conventions.
As of Sunday, the landmark measure had yet to be enforced, according to conservationists and Jerusalem awqaf officials.