Palestinian and Israeli leaders have clashed over access to the Temple Mount, as tensions in Jerusalem intensify.
Both Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have ratcheted up the rhetoric on Israel over Temple Mount.
The historic and religious site for Jews and Muslims alike has been the epicentre of a spike in violent hostilities and tension.
On 8 October, 3 police officers were injured in outbreaks of violence marking the opening of Temple Mount to visitors.
Over the course of this weekend, the site was daubed with graffiti equating Israel with the Nazis.
This follows Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal’s incendiary remarks this week calling on Muslims to defend the al-Aqsa mosque.
Meshaal, speaking from exile in Doha, Qatar, said “We call on all our people inside the country to hurry up to al-Aqsa (Mosque on Temple Mount) to defend it.”
Meshaal continued to say that ‘“We call on the nation to be angry and to send a message of painful anger to the world that the Palestinian people, the Arab and Muslim nation, will not be silent at the Israeli crime.’
In addition to the Hamas leader, the leader of the Palestinian Government, President Mahmoud Abbas, called on Palestinian Arabs to prevent “settlers” from entering the site by any available means.
President Abbas said that Jews ‘have no right to enter (al-Aqsa) and desecrate it.
He added, “Jerusalem is the jewel in the crown and it is the eternal capital of the Palestinian state. Without it there will be no state”
The Temple Mount is the location of the ruins of the two Temples of Jerusalem, and as such is the holiest site in Judaism.
The al-Aqsa mosque is built atop the ruins. Jews and other non-muslims are prohibited from praying at the site.
In response to the spout of violence, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said that “I am committed and Israel is committed to maintaining the status quo exactly as it has been for many decades,” he said on Monday.
“What we’re seeing are Palestinian extremists who are instigating violence through incitement. The incitement is spread by false and baseless rumors that we are threatening the Muslim holy places. Nothing could be further from the truth.”