At the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque and in the alleys of the Old City of occupied Jerusalem, a scene has been repeated many times demonstrating dozens of Israeli settlers roaming the venue with plant offerings in their hands, marking Jewish holidays from the midst of September to October.
Since Jewish holidays have fallen out in Jerusalem, the entrances to Al-Aqsa Mosque have witnessed unprecedented violations by Israeli settlers, including provocative dances, loud songs, epic prostrations, Talmudic rituals, and prayers.
The al-Ghazali courtyard before Bab Al-Asbat Gate was not spared from the settlers’ assaults and provocative practices, where they engaged in en masse Torah rituals, prayers, and dances, with a significant presence and guardians of Israeli occupation police.
During the Sukkot Jewish holiday, which continues for six days, they perform Talmudic rituals and bring their plant sacrifices into the Al-Aqsa Mosque in a bid to solidify their connection to the holy site as a place of their worship.
Plant offerings, which consist of a bundle of leaves: etrog, palm branch, myrtle, and willow, are brought into the Al-Aqsa Mosque as a “sacrificial worship” to the spirit of the Lord” dwelling in the Temple, as cited in the Jewish doctrine. Thus, the place where the Temple is should all Jewish rituals be practiced.
Jerusalem affairs researcher, Fakhri Abu Diab, bears out some facts regarding settlers’ incursions, saying that Israeli settlers deliberately deploy at the gates of Al-Aqsa during Jewish holidays is systematically planned and encouraged by practicing Talmudic rituals and prayers, under the strict protection of the Israeli police.
Abu Diab explains that some settlers do not physically enter Al-Aqsa as it should be and in accordance with the instructions of the Jewish rabbis, who prohibit such light incursions as not serving the Jewish current state. Therefore, they resort to performing their rituals at its outside gates.
In this regard, the Israeli settlers are trying to pressure the Israeli government and its police to inaugurate all the gates of Al-Aqsa to intruders, not limiting their access to the Moroccan Gate only, believing that the entire plaza is a Jewish temple-linked area rather than a place for Muslims.
One of the gates which settlers have demanded to be opened is Al-Asbat, which is one of the heavily targeted northeastern gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque. It has been sealed off several times by the Israeli police who usually block worshipers’ access to the Mosque through it. They do so in an attempt to assert Jewish complete control over the site and pave settlers’ way into Al-Aqsa through it.
At Bab as-Silsila Gate, Israeli forces have been crossing all red lines using a physical attack policy, including pushing to the ground and brutal assault of Palestinian worshippers, men and women, young and old and even activists who had already been expelled from Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Abu Diab further makes it crystal clear that the Israeli occupation has opened eyes wide on controlling the gates of Al-Aqsa, not leaving a place safe. For this it has advanced many plans to confiscate and take over the eastern area of Al-Aqsa Mosque, stretching from Al-Asbat to Al-Rahma Gate. The big goal is to obliterate the Islamic feature of the holy place and empty it from its people.
Such settlers’ provocations at the gates of Al-Aqsa constitute an affront to the feelings of Muslims and a blatant violation of the sanctity of the mosque, according to the Jerusalem researcher.
Advanced Transitional Phase
The head of Jerusalem’s Anti-Judaization Commission, Nasser al-Hadmi, states that the Israeli occupation’s policies during the Jewish holidays fall within the framework of normalizing the Jewish presence inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque and at its gates. This includes increasing the number of intruders, performing Jewish prayers and rituals, and attempting to smuggle sacrifices, animals or plants, into the mosque.
Al-Hadmi points out that the Israeli authorities try to normalize the Jewish presence in Al-Aqsa, paving the way for an advanced transitional phase where a specific portion of the mosque is allocated for Jewish prayers.
One of the Talmudic rituals that goes along with this notion is blowing the trumpet at Al-Aqsa gates, which is a sign of the beginning of a new phase. It marks a separation between the Hebrew years, which they consider the start of the Day of Resurrection.
In the eyes of the Temple groups, it separates two eras: the era of Al-Aqsa Islamic identity, which they imagine has ended, and the era of its Judaization, which they believe has begun.
The perilous step the Israeli occupation has been trying to implement is similar to the scenario that occurred at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, in which Muslims are banned from practicing their rituals, while footprints of the Jewish identity vividly appear on its walls, roads, and gates, Al-Hadmi warns.
Al-Hadmi concludes that the deliberate target of Al-Aqsa’s gates by settlers during the holidays is an act that impedes Muslims from accessing their mosque and performing their prayers within it, marking a clear Judaization strategic plan with defined goals regarding the demolition of Al-Aqsa Mosque.