27 July 2018- Escalating Tensions at Al-Haram Al-Sharif


I write to urgently draw your attention to the critical situation in the Occupied State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, due to Israel’s endless provocations and illegal actions against the Palestinian people and their holy sites in the Occupied East Jerusalem, particularly Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which houses Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Again, we are witnessing the same provocative actions against the holy sites in Occupied East Jerusalem, by Israel, the occupying Power, which are further fueling already-high tensions and continuing to destabilize the fragile situation on the ground. In this regard, today, Israeli occupying forces violently stormed al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, firing tear gas and stun grenades at Muslim worshipers gathered for Friday prayers, injuring nearly 40 Palestinians, including two of Al-Waqf guards.  In addition, Israeli occupying forces arrested six Palestinians. Moreover, Israel took yet an additional dangerous and condemnable action in which they sealed off Al-Aqsa Mosque with iron chains, preventing Palestinian worshippers from entering to worship, which led to confrontations between Israeli occupying forces and Muslim worshipers.

This dangerous escalation coincides with the first anniversary of the Al-Aqsa protests in July 2017 when tens of thousands of Palestinians prayed outside the Compound for nearly two weeks, protesting against the new metal detectors installed by the Israeli occupying authorities.  The latest illegal measures taken today by the Israeli occupying forces represent a clear demonstration of Israel’s persistent policy of violating the historic status quo of the holy sites of the City, which has only served to aggravate religious sensitivities and tensions on the ground. Israel, the occupying Power, must respect the historic status quo and the sacredness of the holy site and cease all actions that are inflaming the situation and risk exacerbating heightened religious sensitivities, with potentially grave consequences.

Israeli closures and measures regarding Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound should not be seen as isolated events, but rather part of broader Israeli policies to alter the character, status and demography of Occupied East Jerusalem and transform it into a Jewish-only city.  As such, what is taking place today cannot be divorced from other illegal policies and practices being carried out by Israel throughout the City and the rest of the West Bank, including its construction and expansion of settlements, home demolitions, forced eviction and displacement of Palestinian families. Nor can it be divorced from the Israeli aggression against the Gaza-Strip and the adoption of the so-called “Jewish nation-state law”, which aims to intensify Israel’s colonization, segregation and discrimination regime in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

We recall that the international community has rightly never recognized Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem and considers it occupied territory.  We further reiterate that all illegal Israeli actions at Al-Haram Al-Sharif and throughout the rest of Occupied East Jerusalem constitute violations of international law, including the numerous relevant Security Council, including resolution 2334 (2016), and General Assembly resolutions, including ES-10/19, calling for a cessation of all policies and measures aimed at altering the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and calling for respect by the occupying Power, of its obligations under international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, which explicitly prohibits such actions.

We therefore call upon the international community to condemn these illegal actions by Israel, the occupying Power, and to firmly demand that it immediately cease all measures and provocations that are violating the status quo of the holy sites of the City. Israel, the occupying Power, must respect the right of the Palestinian people to freely access the Compound and the right of Muslims to worship at the Compound without any interference whatsoever.

This letter is in follow-up to our 640 previous letters regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which constitutes the territory of the State of Palestine.  These letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to XXXX (A/ES-10/xxx-S/2018/xx) constitute a basic record of the crimes being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people since September 2000.  For all of these war crimes, acts of State terrorism and systematic human rights violations being committed against the Palestinian people, Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators be brought to justice.

I should be grateful if you would arrange to have this letter made available to the members of the Security Council for their immediate and valuable consideration and also distributed as an official document of the Security Council.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Dr. Riyad Mansour

Ambassador, Permanent Observer

of the State of Palestine to the United Nations