GAZA CITY: The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas warned Saturday of attacks on synagogues if Israeli forces carry out another raid on the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque in annexed east Jerusalem.
“Whoever takes the decision to repeat this scene (of a deployment inside the mosque) will be taking the decision to destroy thousands of synagogues across the world,” Yahya Sinwar, Hamas chief in the Gaza Strip, said in a speech.
Israeli police have over the past two weeks clashed repeatedly with Palestinian protesters at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, with footage showing them firing tear gas inside the mosque, sparking condemnation from across the Muslim world.
“You should be ready for a great battle if the (Israeli) occupation does not stop attacking Al-Aqsa Mosque,” said Sinwar.
He said Hamas would fire off hundreds of rockets at Israel in case of an act of “aggression” on Al-Aqsa at the end of May, when Israel marks its capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Violence in east Jerusalem has raised fears of another armed conflict similar to an 11-day war last year between Israel and Hamas, triggered in part by similar unrest at Al-Aqsa.
The latest Al-Aqsa violence brought nearly 300 the number of Palestinians wounded in clashes at the site.
The Al-Aqsa compound is the holiest place in Judaism, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, and the third-holiest in Islam.
Palestinian Muslims have been angered by an uptick in Jewish visits to the compound, whereby long-standing convention Jews may visit but are not allowed to pray.