Fri Jul 21, 2017 10:53AM
Israeli security forces stand guard in front of Palestinian worshipers praying outside a main entrance to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem al-Quds on July 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Israeli security forces stand guard in front of Palestinian worshipers praying outside a main entrance to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem al-Quds on July 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
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Recent Israeli-imposed restrictions on Palestinians’ worshiping at the al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the most important holy sites in Islam, have escalated tensions between the two sides. Clashes between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli regime forces outside the mosque compound continued for a sixth day in a row on Thursday. The scuffles left at least 50 Palestinians injured, some of them in critical situation and at least one of the protesters needed surgery. To discuss the new wave of tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, Press TV has interviewed with Catherine Shakdam, director of the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies from London, and Maxine Dovere, a reporter and political commentator from New York.

Shakdam said that there is a clear attempt to erase the religious heritage in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

Israel is trying to “deny Palestinian heritage”, claiming that the al-Aqsa Mosque belongs to the Zionists, the commentator said on Thursday night.

According to Shakdam, the Israeli regime is trying to “exacerbate hatred and divisions” within religious communities.

Israel placed detectors in front of the al-Aqsa Mosque on July 14 after a reported shootout near the compound left two Israeli soldiers and three Palestinians dead. The move has caused more rage among Palestinians who call for worship at the holy site.

A Palestinian protester holds a copy of the Qur'an, Islam's holy book, and shouts slogans in front of Israeli security forces during a demonstration in Jerusalem al-Quds on July 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

She went on to say that the standoff between the Israeli regime and the Palestinian people has its roots in denial of Palestinians’ political and cultural rights.

The Israeli regime is playing a very dangerous political game by defining people based on sectarian and ethnic lines under the pretext of protecting national security, Shakdam warned.

She pointed to Israel’s attempt to use terrorism as a weapon against Palestinians, noting that Tel Aviv has created the dynamics to generate violence.

The violent situation in the occupied lands of Palestine comes from the Israeli occupation and harsh tactics against the Palestinian people, she argued.

Dovere, the other contributor on the show, said Israel is trying to make sure that the al-Aqsa Mosque will be safe for both Muslims and Jews.

“The Israeli measures are necessary not only for the safety of the Israeli border police and the Israeli soldiers, but for worshipers who attend al-Aqsa Mosque as well,” she said.

“The Israeli measures will prevent or at least try to prevent further incidents when people will be hurt or people will be killed,” she added.

She further insisted that Israel had no plan to “take over” al-Aqsa Mosque and statements made by some Israelis over annexation of the mosque were not Tel Aviv’s official stance.   

The escalation of tensions between Israelis and the Palestinian people over the mosque has left more than 300 Palestinians killed at the hands of Israeli forces since October 2015.