Al-Aqsa Mosque under Zionists' siege, 48 years after arson attack

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - August 21 of each year marks the painful anniversary of the Aqsa Mosque arson attack by Zionists and 48 years after the incident, the mosque is still under siege by the usurper Israeli regime.

This day is remembered by the Muslims around the world and the pain of the incident can only be erased by the completer liberation of al-Quds (Jerusalem) city where the mosque is located.

Although this crime, which is considered a critical juncture in the history of the Aqsa Mosque and the Palestinian cause, happened a long time ago, the Israeli regime and Zionists continue with their nefarious plots against the Islamic holy site.

Although this crime, which is considered a critical juncture in the history of the Aqsa Mosque and the Palestinian cause, happened a long time ago, the Zionist idea of seizing the Islamic holy site is very strongly present until today.

Forty-eight years ago today, Denis Michael Rohan, an extremist Zionist from Australia, set fire to Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Rohan’s arson attack, which occurred on Aug. 21, 1969, destroyed several parts of the historic mosque, including a 1,000-year-old wood-and-ivory pulpit dating back to the time of celebrated Muslim conqueror Saladin.

Israeli regime’s involvement

At first, Israeli regime officials claimed the fire resulted from an electrical short circuit, but the al-Quds electricity company conducted a technical investigation into the incident and announced there was no fault in the network or connection between the fire and electricity.

At the time, Sheikh Hilmi al-Muhtaseb, the then head of the Higher Islamic Commission in al-Quds, told a news conference that the fire was deliberate and not normal, affirming the Israeli authorities cut off water supply to the Aqsa Mosque compound immediately after the fire started.

The blaze also destroyed the mihrab (prayer niche) of the Mosque, along with large sections of the mosque’s heavily-ornamented interior and gilded wooden dome.

Two days after the attack, Rohan detained by the Israeli regime authorities, who claimed he suffered from severe mental illness, eventually deporting him back to his native Australia.

OIC Formed

Muslim countries responded to the incident by establishing the multilateral Organization of the Islamic Conference, which was later renamed the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

On Sept. 15, 1969, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 271, which condemned the destructive attack on the mosque and chastised the Israeli government for failing to respect UN decisions.

In a Monday statement marking the attack anniversary, Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas both reiterated their condemnation of Israeli regime’s long history of antagonism towards the mosque complex.

In separate statements, the two movements called on Arabs and Muslims worldwide -- along with the international community -- to shoulder their responsibilities regarding occupied East al-Quds in general and the Al-Aqsa in particular.

“As an occupying power, Israel has no sovereignty over East al-Quds, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque and its environs,” the West Bank-based Fatah movement declared in its statement.

“Al-Quds, including Al-Aqsa, is an integral part of the Palestinian land occupied [by Israel] in 1967,” the movement asserted.

Hamas vows continued resistance

Hamas, for its part, lamented that the flashpoint mosque complex continued to groan under the “burden of Zionist occupation, which violates our holy sites, demolishes our shrines and continues to dig tunnels under the [Al-Aqsa] mosque”.

Hamas went on to praise the “steadfastness” of the Palestinian resistance against what it described as “the machinations of Israel’s extreme right-wing occupation government”.

“The crimes of the Zionist enemy and its continued violations against our people, land and holy sites will only serve to strengthen our resolve and our refusal to recognize the Zionist entity,” the Hamas statement read.

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