CAIRO - The Arab League warned Sunday that Israel has reached a ‘red line’ after fresh clashes in Jerusalem, urging international pressure to stop what it branded ‘violations’ in the holy city.
Clashes around the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound - the third holiest site in Islam and Judaism’s holiest - prompted Israel on Thursday to close the site for a day. Al-Aqsa and adjacent neighbourhoods have seen months of violence, with the mosque compound a rallying point for Palestinian resistance to perceived Jewish attempts to take control of it.
‘Israel has reached a red line,’ Arab League deputy chief Ahmed Ben Hilli said after an assembly of the 22-member bloc’s delegates. He called on Arabs and the international community ‘to put a stop to these practices by the Israeli occupation authorities in Jerusalem’. ‘Touching Jerusalem will lead to results with untold consequences,’ he added.
On Sunday, Israeli far-right lawmaker Moshe Feiglin visited the compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, pressing for Jews to be allowed to pray there despite the heightened tensions over its status. He was met with protests from Muslims crying ‘Allahu akbar’ (God is greater). The United States on Thursday urged all sides in Jerusalem to exercise restraint in the holy city, and said it was working with Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians to try to restore calm. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem, including Al-Aqsa, as the capital of their future state. Israel considers east Jerusalem, conquered in 1967, to be part of its ‘eternal’ capital. Moreover, Israel has closed two border crossings with Gaza, the army said on Sunday, after a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave struck its territory.
‘The crossing points for people and goods, Erez and Kerem Shalom, have been closed until further notice except for humanitarian aid,’ an army spokeswoman said. She said that the measure was taken after a rocket fired from Gaza hit the Eshkol area of southern Israel on Friday, without causing any casualties or damage. It was the first to strike Israeli territory since September 16, and the second since the end of the Jewish state’s devastating 50-day war on Gaza militants. A ceasefire agreed between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers took effect on August 26, ending a conflict that claimed 2,140 Palestinian lives and 73 on the Israeli side, most of them from the army. Both sides are expected to resume talks soon in Cairo as part of an effort to keep the ceasefire in place.