Israeli forces have raided the house of Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the preacher of al-Aqsa Mosque in the occupied East Jerusalem, according local reports.
Israeli soldiers accompanied by intelligence officers broke into the residence, located in al-Suwana neighborhood on Monday evening, the Palestine Information Canter reported on Tuesday.
Sabri was then threatened by the raiders for his warning that if the Tel Aviv regime opened the al-Aqsa Mosque to Jewish settlers, the Department of Islamic Endowments in Jerusalem would also open it to Muslim worshipers.
“Israeli intelligence forces came to my house and threatened me, saying that they will hold me responsible for any tension in al-Aqsa Mosque,” said Sheikh Sabri in an interview with Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency.
“I told them that suspending the reception of worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque does not mean in any way that it is permissible to the settlers to enter it. Therefore, if the occupation police decide to open the Maghrabi Gate unilaterally to the settlers, then we will open the rest of the mosque’s doors to worshipers,” he added.
The al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sits just above the Western Wall plaza and houses both the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque.
According to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem al-Quds in 1967, non-Muslim worship at the compound is prohibited. However, Israeli settlers and lawmakers frequently violate the agreement, storm the compound and observe their religious rituals there.
“Israel should not be allowed to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic and attempt to impose new restrictions on al-Aqsa Mosque,” the al-Aqsa preacher further said.
Earlier on Monday, Sheikh Sabri had said that several Israeli setter groups had called for taking advantage of the coronavirus lockdown to resume daily break-ins into the holy site.
Last month, the Department of Islamic Endowments in Jerusalem announced that the al-Aqsa Mosque would remain closed and public worship suspended during the holy fasting month of Ramadan as a containment measure to prevent further spread of the contagious disease.