Al-Aqsa Mosque preacher thanks Turkey for supporting Palestine

By Baris Gundogan

ANKARA (AA) – The preacher of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Thursday spoke to the head of Turkey's top religious body Diyanet over the phone and thanked Turkey for its support to Palestine, a statement said.

Sheikh Ekrime Sabri said the statements by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ali Erbas, who reacted to Israel's attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestinians, are "extremely important."

"Mr. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and your precious speeches are very important … I would like to express once again that these speeches supporting Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestine support our persistence here," Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs quoted him as saying.

He expressed the wish to celebrate the ongoing Eid al-Fitr festival, marking the end of the Muslim holy month Ramadan, with Erbas and other Turks in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in independent Jerusalem."

Erbas said Turkey condemns Israel's aggressive actions towards Palestine, which cannot be accepted.

"I hope all Muslims unite," he said, adding that when differences between Muslim states end, "this occupation and persecution in Jerusalem will end."

He acknowledged that there is great sensitivity in Turkey about Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Tensions have been running high since an Israeli court last week ordered the eviction of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, leading to Palestinian protests and Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians, including worshippers at the city's Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The latest death toll from ongoing Israeli attacks in Gaza Strip has risen to 87, including 18 children and eight women, with 530 injured, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move that has never been recognized by the international community.

*Writing by Merve Berker