OIC condemns Israel’s closure of al-Aqsa Mosque

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Riyadh, July 15 (IANS) The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Saturday condemned Israel’s closure of the al-Aqsa Mosque as a crime against Muslims.

OIC Secretary General Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen slammed the Israeli move, the first time since 1969, as “a crime, a serious precedent and a blatant attack on the holy sites as well as the rights and freedom of Palestinians to practice their religion”, Xinhua news agency reported.

Israel has closed the mosque compound and banned Arab prayers since Friday’s clashes near the compound between Israeli police and three Arab citizens, in which the three Arabs and two Israeli police officers were killed.

He called on the international community to act immediately to deter repeated Israeli attacks against Islamic and Christian holy sites in occupied East Jerusalem and to stop Israel’s racist violations and crimes against the Palestinian people and their holy sites.

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The al-Aqsa Mosque compound, holy to both Muslims and Jews, is one of the most sensitive sites in the region. It is revered by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, and by Jews as the Temple Mount.

On Friday, after joining the morning prayer at the mosque, three Arab citizens of Israel opened fire at a group of Israeli police officers near the gates of the compound, injuring two officers who later died in hospital from their wounds, and injuring a third officer.

The Arab gunmen were subsequently shot and killed by police, and Israel closed the mosque to Muslim prayers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday spoke over the phone with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, assuring him Israel will keep the status quo in East Jerusalem’s holy compound.

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