Sameera Casmod | firstname.lastname@example.org
2 October 2023 | 10:40am SAST
The focus during this week’s Palestine Report with Moulana Ebrahim Moosa on Radio Islam International was on the current situation at Masjid al-Aqsa. In addition, Saudi-Israeli normalisation efforts were discussed, as was the announcement of the city of Al-Khalil as the capital of Islamic culture for 2026.
Moulana Moosa discussed the most recent incursions on Masjid al-Aqsa by Israeli settlers during the Jewish holiday season, which spans a 20-day period. He described how large numbers of settlers, often under armed Israeli protection, had been entering the masjid. The incursions involved provoking Palestinian worshippers, with Israeli settlers emptying the Masjid straight after Fajr salaah. Restrictions were enforced to limit entry of Palestinians into the compound and to ensure the Masjid is particularly empty of young people.
The incursions also included blowing the shofar (a ritual trumpet), prostration rituals, singing, and dancing at the doors of the masjid.
Moulana Moosa spoke of numerous arrests of Palestinians both inside and out of the Masjid. “There have been attempts yesterday to smuggle animals into the old city and into Masjid al-Aqsa to carry out sacrifice rituals. Plant offerings were also paraded in the streets of the old city.”
Another development discussed was the heavy surveillance of Masji al-Aqsa, including the use of body cameras and 360 cameras by Israelis police and settlers. These measures aim to protect the settlers and monitor Muslim worshippers inside the masjid.
The interview also covered ongoing Saudi-Israeli normalisation efforts. The White House National Security Council spokesperson revealed that a “basic framework” for a deal had been reached, but complex arrangements would require compromise from all sides.
Saudi Arabia’s non-resident ambassador’s visit to the Palestinian territories was discussed. Although welcomed by the Palestinian Authority, the ambassador had to cancel a planned visit to Masjid al-Aqsa due to potential objections. This raised questions about Saudi-Israeli normalisation and the competition with Jordan for custodianship of Masjid al-Aqsa.
Israeli ministers’ visits to Saudi Arabia, particularly in the fields of tourism and communication, indicated a warming relationship. The interview also highlighted a report from Middle East Eye outlining five ways Saudi-Israeli normalisation is already underway. These include meetings between Saudi and Israeli officials, cultural exchanges, defence cooperation, and trade and technology collaboration, particularly in surveillance technology.
One revelation was the involvement of an Israeli technology firm, IntoView, in keeping watch for potential terrorists in Saudi Arabia. The firm also scanned data from all Saudi citizens to help shape the kingdom’s 2030 economic diversification strategy.
The interview concluded by discussing the declaration of Al-Khalil (Hebron) as the capital of Islamic culture for 2026. This decision aims to emphasise the city’s profound Islamic and Arab heritage and raise awareness about Israeli attempts to alter its identity.
Mawlana Moosa noted the significance of Al-Khalil as the nucleus of the settler movement’s activities in other areas of Palestine. Focusing on Hebron is essential to understanding the broader Israeli settler movement’s goals and actions.
Listen to the Palestine Report on Sabaahul Muslim with Apa Annisa Essack.