GAZA CITY, Palestine
Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh on Sunday warned Israel against allowing a flag march by settlers in occupied East Jerusalem.
On Wednesday, Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Barlev and Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai approved the march to pass through Jerusalem’s Old City.
“We follow the threats of storming Al-Aqsa complex and we warn the enemy against taking such moves,” Haniyeh said in a televised speech marking the first anniversary of an 11-day Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip.
Haniyeh said Hamas “will not allow any desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque or settler arrogance in Jerusalem.”
The Hamas leader called on the Palestinians “to protect Al-Aqsa Mosque and prevent settlers from moving ahead with their plans” against the mosque.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israeli settlers plan the flag march to mark what they call the day of unifying Jerusalem, in reference to Israel’s occupation of the city in 1967.
Last year, settlers staged their march through the Damascus Gate, known as Bab al-Amud area and one of Jerusalem’s Old City gates amid anti-Arab chants.
In May 2021, Israeli violations inside Al-Aqsa Mosque and in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem triggered the break-out of an Israeli military offensive on Gaza.
More than 200 Palestinians were killed and thousands injured in the onslaught, which came to a halt under an Egyptian-brokered truce. Thirteen Israelis were also killed in Palestinian fire from Gaza during the course of the conflict.
*Writing by Ahmed Asmar
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