By: Dr. Sharif Abu Shammalah
CEO of al-Quds Foundation Malaysia
Since 1967, the Israeli Occupation has deliberately attacked al-Quds and purposely attempted to destroy al-Aqsa Mosque, and instead of it, Israel proposes to rebuild a Jewish temple. Since then, Israeli Forces have subsequently adopted the policy of transgressive actions and violent attacks. One of the most prominent oppressive aggressions that the history should immortalise, was on the 21st of August 1969, when the Israeli authorities have chosen to stage an unprecedented escalation in al-Quds to damage and burn down intentionally al-Aqsa Mosque.
Setting the Fire
In the early of the 21 August, 1969, an extremist Zionist emigrated from Australia and lived in an Israeli settlement, attempted to set fire in al-Aqsa Mosque. The fire had swept some of the oldest parts of the mosque, most notably destroyed the areological things particularly the old wood and ivory pulpit gifted by Salahuddin Al-Ayubi and made significantly by Nour-Aldeen Zenki, as well as mosaic panels on the ceilings and walls; many areas within the mosque especially the Eastern parts were left burnt and blackened.
The Israeli Attitudes
The events exposed necessarily the criminal behaviours of the Israeli Authorities regarding the action. The Israeli Authorities switched off internationally the sources of the water supply inside the Mosque and neighbourhood close to the Mosque to prevent any rescue to the Holy place, al-Aqsa Mosque. In addition, the Israeli Occupation Forces also prevented the fire trucks, or any other extinguishers to reach the scene, claiming that it is the al-Quds Municipality’s responsibility to handle the situation, which motivated the fire to sweep and burn everything within the mosque including the old-archaeological parts of it. The Muslim worshipers consequently used all possible things to extinguish the fire; they tried to use their home blankets and other small containers to bring water to extinguish the fire and to stop the spread of burning.
Moreover, the professional investigation proves that the set of fire was executed from two different sources within the Mosque, which means that the set of fire was purposely planned and proceeded not individually but collectively. It enhances the suspicion that the Israeli Authorities were actively involved in the planning and facilitate the arson attempt have never been disapproved.
The Cultural and Architectural Losses
Consequently, the human civilisation in general and al-Quds in particular have lost a number of archaeological sites and cultural monuments. For example;
- The fire had swept notably the 900-year-old wood and ivory pulpit gifted by Salahuddin Al-Ayubi, which is regarded as a unique architectural masterpiece since it was made by an interlock manner without functioning any nail. Then, it was moved by Salahuddin after opening al-Quds and releasing al-Aqsa from the Crusaders.
- Masjed “Omar” which was made of muddy materials especially its roof made with clay and wooden bridges.
- Mihrab “Zachariah” which locates mainly on the Eastern side of the Mosque.
- Maqam AlArbai’een (The 40th Place)
- Three out of seven distinguished galleries were destroyed, from which the Mosque was constructed as well as a big part of the ceiling fell down on the flour as a result of the huge damage and wildfire.
- The mosaic panels that include the inscription of Surat “Al-Isra’a” that was carved with the golden mosaic over the Mihrab. The inscription is located on the Eastern side with a length of 23m.
- The wooden bridges which spectacularly carry the candles.
- 48 windows which are uniquely made with wood, gypsum and coloured glass, as well as these windows were impressively designed to prevent the direct sunrays to enter the Mosque.
- The “Ajami” carpet which was sensationally made from peculiar materials.
The Political Reactions
- The arson was internationally condemned. The Security Council held an urgent summit, issuing the resolution “271” of 1969, which significantly denounced the Israeli actions and asked it to conceal the proposals that might change the situation of Jerusalem.
The U.N resolution reported “The Security Council express the deep sorrow for the attacking actions and the damage that the Israeli Military Occupation had caused to al-Aqsa Mosque on the 21 Aug,1969. Additionally, the Security Council well understand the effects of the damage specially on the Human-Cultural Civilization”
- All Muslims and Arab Countries were full of anger, calling for an Arab Summit, issuing an urgent appeal to all Muslim leaders and their nations to participate for the sake of Jerusalem, and they called the day of burning, 21 Aug, 1969 as a “Black Day”. In addition, the Arab and Muslim leaders urgently arranged an Islamic Summit in Rabat on the 25th Sep,1969. The summit called to arrange for the foundation of a permanent secretariat to coordinate cooperation among Muslim countries. This could later lead to the establishment of; The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) which interestingly became the largest official platform for cooperation among Muslim countries in the world.
- The Israeli Officials had expected that such action could threat their existence and the Islamic-Arab anger and protestations might become a sharp threat to its existence in Palestine particularly in Jerusalem. However, the reactions included merely some protestations and statements of condemnation as well as the establishment of (OIC).
The Judgement of the Criminals!
- The extremist who set the fire had been arrested by the Israeli Authorities and introduced to a fake court claiming that he is a “psychopath man”, and then he was deported to Australia till he died in 1995; however, his action surely had the apparent blessing of the Israeli Occupation Forces.
- The Israeli Occupation Authorities; the big criminal has been attacking al-Aqsa Mosque. The Israeli Authorities have attacked and corrupted the Mosque many times aiming to destroy the whole Mosque and gradually attempt to implement their proposal and plans over al-Aqsa.
All Israeli actions and procedures reveal that the fire is still burning the Mosque as well as the crimes are already continuous.
How can we animate this action as an anniversary and resist such criminal activities?!
Of course, this sorrowful anniversary is important since it exposes the “Zionist Hatred” to al-Aqsa and reveals the malicious conspiracy on Jerusalem. Therefore, we as constitutions and individuals should;
- Cooperate with each other’s and keep the cause of al-Aqsa as our first Issue as well as save it in our hearts and show its importance and holy in all our occasions.
- Save al-Aqsa through providing the political, financial and moral support for the Murabteen in al-Aqsa.
- Make all possible actions to stop the Israeli aggression against al-Aqsa and ask for an international resolution obliging Israeli to stop imposing greater control over al-Aqsa.
- Show the situation of al-Aqsa off, and make presentations exposing the suffering of al-Quds in general and al-Aqsa in particular.