Today marks the 54th anniversary of the Zionist crime that took place in 1969 when the Al-Aqsa Mosque was deliberately set ablaze. On this day, a stark reminder emerges of a tragic incident that remains etched in Palestinian memory.
The annual commemoration of the 1969 fire at the revered Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem carries with it painful historical memories etched into the Palestinian collective consciousness. Over the years, this tragedy continues to resonate deeply in the hearts and minds of Palestinians.
On August 21, 1969, a radical Australian Jewish extremist named Michael Dennis stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and intentionally set fire to its eastern wing. The incident sent shockwaves through the hearts of Palestinians and Muslims worldwide.
The flames consumed more than a third of the mosque’s total area, burning over 1500 square meters of the original 4400 square meters. The fire caused extensive damage to the mosque’s structure, pillars, arches, and ancient ornamentation. The ceiling collapsed, and two main columns along with the supporting arch of the dome fell.
Parts of the decorated inner dome, the mihrab, and the southern walls were damaged. 48 windows crafted from plaster and colored glass were shattered, carpets were incinerated, and numerous decorations and Quranic verses were lost.
Despite the years that have passed since the fire, metaphorical “Israeli” fires in various forms still persist within the Muslims’ first Qibla and the holy city. This represents an ongoing religious war that has yet to cease.
Palestinians managed to save the remaining part of the mosque from being consumed by flames. The Israeli army arrested the perpetrator, claiming he was insane, and deported him to Australia.
Evidence suggests that the occupation authorities were complicit in the crime. Water was cut off from the area of the compound immediately upon the outbreak of the fire, and they attempted to prevent citizens and firefighting vehicles from Palestinian municipalities from extinguishing it. However, they succeeded in quelling the flames.
The fire ravaged the mosque’s façades, ceiling, furniture, carpets, and precious decorations, including copies of the Quran. The Mosque suffered significant damage, necessitating years of restoration to return it to its former glory.
Over the years, Israel has continued to alter the reality of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, including attempts to change its identity and character. The “Guardians of Al-Aqsa” have remained steadfast in their resistance to these practices and attempts at Judaization, helping preserve the Islamic and Arab character of the mosque.
Each year, Palestinians and Muslims around the world mark this painful anniversary, emphasizing the need to stand against ongoing violations targeting the Al-Aqsa Mosque. They call upon the international community to act to protect this vital religious site, safeguard its integrity, and assert its sovereignty.