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Israel detains top Waqf officials in East Jerusalem raids

Feb. 24, 2019 10:27 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 26, 2019 10:47 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained Waqf Council chairman, Sheikh Abd al-Athim Salhab, and the Deputy Director of Awqaf in Jerusalem, Sheikh Najeh Bkerat, during raids on predawn Sunday in occupied East Jerusalem.

The detentions carried out by Israeli forces came after the reopening of the al-Rahma Gate (Gate of Mercy), one of the Al-Aqsa Mosque gates, where hundreds of Palestinian worshipers performed prayers for the first time since 2003.

Both Salhab and Bkerat played important roles in the reopening of the al-Rahma Gate by opening the doors of the hall to allow worshipers to perform Friday prayers inside.

Palestinian Minister of Waqf (Islamic Endowment) and Religious Affairs Sheikh Yousif Ideis condemned the detention of Salhab and Bkerat, saying “This is a sign of the failure and crisis experienced by the [Israeli] occupation.”

He described the detention of the two Waqf officials as a bad omen, stressing Israel might take more serious steps against the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is run by the Islamic Endowment department.

In addition, Israeli police forces threatened to carry out more detentions in the upcoming few days as a result of reopening the gate.

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