عاجل

البث المباشر

Hamas tells W.Bank to ‘rise up’ over holy sites

Haniyeh says project aims to steal Palestinian history

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Tuesday called on Palestinians in the West Bank to "rise up" against Israel over a plan to restore two contested holy sites in the territory.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sparked outrage on Sunday when he said he hoped to include Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron in a national heritage plan.

"The decision requires a real response in the West Bank and for the people to rise up in the face of the Israeli occupation and to break every shackle in confronting it," Haniyeh told reporters.

"(The project) aims to erase our identity, alter our Islamic monuments and steal our history," he added.

Hamas has in the past made similar calls for uprisings in the occupied West Bank, where the Western-backed Palestinian Authority has been confined since the Islamist group seized Gaza in June 2007.

In Hebron there was sporadic stone throwing from Palestinian youths near the Ibrahimi mosque above the Tomb of the Patriarchs but there were no reports of anyone being wounded.

The site has often been the scene of tensions between Palestinians and a few hundred hard-line settlers who live there under heavy military protection and have converted part of the mosque into a synagogue.

Meanwhile in Bethlehem shops and schools were closed in a day-long general strike.

Netanyahu told his cabinet on Sunday he intended to include the Tomb of the Patriarchs and several other Jewish religious shrines in territory Israel captured in a 1967 war in a $107 million plan to restore Jewish heritage sites.

"A person must know his homeland and its cultural and historical vistas. That is what we are going to instill in this generation and in the next generations ... for the glory of the Jewish people," he said.

Khaled Esseleh, the mayor of Hebron, said: "I'm hoping there won't be more clashes but this is a very sensitive religious issue, and Netanyahu just lit the fire."

Palestinians are calling the move an attempt to seize land and holy sites on Israeli-occupied land where they hope to build a future state.

The decision requires a real response in the West Bank and for the people to rise up in the face of the Israeli occupation and to break every shackle in confronting it

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh