The Palestinian 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.
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“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 to 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, where by long-standing convention Jews may visit but are not allowed to pray.