Around 60,000 Muslims took part in Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem yesterday, and among them were 300 residents of Gaza aged 50 and above who were let in by Israel through the Erez crossing.
Amid the large turnout Sheikh Ekrima Sa'id Sabri, chairperson of the Supreme Muslim Council and former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and "Palestine" for the Palestinian Authority (PA), gave a sermon in which he called to ban all non-Muslims from the Temple Mount.
Sabri in his sermon claimed that the Palestinian Arabs were expelled from their land by force and they "are firm in (wanting) to return to it." He emphasized that "the campaign against the occupation still continues."
The former grand mufti accused Israel of allowing non-Muslims to visit the Temple Mount without the agreement of the Islamic institutions, and said that before the 1967 Six Day War non-Muslims were not allowed in, in a call to return to that system.
Israel liberated the Temple Mount - the holiest site in Judaism - in the war, but has left the Jordanian Waqf in de facto control of the site, where it has banned Jewish prayer and discriminated against non-Muslim visitors.
Sabri went on to claim that "the Israeli occupation has no connection to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the boastfulness and the power of the occupation will not bring the occupier any right on the mosque, not in the past and not in the future."
The Temple Mount was the site of the First and Second Temple. As a result of Palestinian campaigns to erase Jewish history, UNESCO recently passed a resolution cutting the ancient Jewish connection to the Mount by referring to the site only as Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Sabri served as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and "Palestine" from 1994 until 2006.