Middle East

Main point to reduce tension is Israel leaving Al-Aqsa Mosque: former Hamas chief

‘The invaders came and displaced us,” this ‘is a national struggle,’ says Khaled Mashal

Muhammed Semiz,Halime Afra Aksoy   | 15.05.2021
Main point to reduce tension is Israel leaving Al-Aqsa Mosque: former Hamas chief Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in East Jerusalem’s Old City ( Mostafa Alkharouf - Anadolu Agency )

ISTANBUL

Turkey and others have made efforts to end tensions between Israel and Palestine with the primary condition being Israel leaving Al-Aqsa Mosque, the former head of Hamas said on late Friday.  

Khaled Mashal, who is currently responsible for Hamas abroad, evaluated Israel's violations of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and the stage that followed attacks on the Gaza Strip during an interview with Turkey’s TRT Arabic.

Mashal said Israel was playing with fire that sparked the current crisis by raiding Al-Aqsa Mosque and stressed that Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza warned Israel for several days to stop attacks on Jerusalem.

"This is a national struggle because we were a people living on this land, and the invaders came and displaced us. So this is a resistance to the invaders,” he said. “We are not fighting them because they are Jews, but because they are invaders. We have the right to defend our land.”

He said no one can deprive Palestinians of the right to resistance and underscored that Israel cannot deprive Palestinians of the right to be near Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque.  

Hamas’ conditions for ending tensions

Mashal said there is movement by Turkey, Egypt, Qatar and the US to control the escalation between Gaza and Israel.

"The most important conditions are the exit of occupying Israel from Al-Aqsa Mosque, the recognition of freedom of worship to our people and Muslims in Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the cessation of the displacement of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood," said Mashal.

He emphasized that resistance groups have been able to improve their military capabilities despite the embargo on the Gaza Strip.  

Palestine vs. Israel

Israeli forces in recent days have attacked Palestinians protesting in solidarity with residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, who were evicted by an Israeli court.

The occupying forces also raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque during special night prayers during Ramadan.

The subsequent escalation of tensions resulted in airstrikes by Israel on Gaza, killing more than 120 Palestinians, including children and women, according to health officials. At least 920 others have been injured, in addition to heavy damage to residential buildings.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move never recognized by the international community.

*Writing by Merve Berker


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