In Pictures| Remembering the arson attack on Al Aqsa mosque: 50 years after the arson attack

Occupied Jerusalem (QNN)- On 21 August, 1969, an extremist Australian Christian, called Dennis Michael Rohan, attempted to set fire to Al-Aqsa Mosque. His action had the apparent blessing of the Israeli occupation forces. 50 years later, the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa remains under as great a threat as ever.

Michael Dennis Rohan, a tourist from Australia and a member of the “Church of God”, set fire to the mosque to “hasten the coming of the Messiah”.

On 21 August, 1969, Palestinian guards in the Aqsa compound saw smoke rising from the south-east wing of the mosque and, upon closer inspection, saw a blaze inside the prayer hall.

Muslims and Christians alike rushed to the mosque to quell the flames, but Israeli occupation forces prevented their entry. After confrontations, they made their way into the Noble Sanctuary and started to tackle the fire.

When the fire extinguishers failed to work, they looked for sources of water but found the pumps broken and the hoses cut. They banded together quickly to form a human chain and used buckets and other small containers to bring water to the building.

Israeli occupation forces also prevented fire trucks, which were arriving from the surrounding West Bank cities of Nablus, Ramallah, Al-Bireh, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin and Tulkarem.

The fire had swept through some of the oldest parts of the mosque, most notably destroying the 900-year-old wood and ivory pulpit gifted by Salahuddin Al-Ayubi, as well as mosaic panels on the walls and ceilings; many areas within the mosque were left blackened and burnt.

The people of occupied Jerusalem went on strike immediately upon the fire. The strike spread all over the occupied Palestinian territories. The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 271 on 15 September, 1969, in which it expressed its sorrow for the damage caused by the arson, in light of the military occupation of Jerusalem. The council stressed that taking land by military conquest is illegal and demanded that Israel should cancel all measures it had taken to change the status of the city.

Rohan, who was a subscriber of The Plain Truth magazine published by the Worldwide Church of God’s (WCG) founder Herbert W. Armstrong, was claimed to be mentally unstable. A claim, which has been used by Israel to protect its terrorists.

The Australian terrorist was unafraid of revealing his motives for the crime; as “the Lord’s emissary”, he wanted to hasten the second coming of Jesus Christ which, in his view, could only be achieved by allowing the Jews to build a temple in place of Al-Aqsa Mosque, where it is claimed that the Temple of Solomon originally stood.

Israelis criticized Rohan’s ignorance, as he “didn’t know that the Dome of the Rock is the one, which was built on the site of the temple, not the Qibali prayeer room”!

50 years later, Israel has been trying to divide the holy mosque between Muslims and Jews. Mass settlers raids into the Al aqsa mosque are being allowed and protected by ‘Israel’. Meanwhile, Muslim worshipers are being evicted and prayer rooms and gates are being closed to worshipers on daily basis. Israeli forces also arrest worshipers every now and then for praying at the holy mosque.

Today as we remember the horrible arson attack on Al Aqsa mosque, it is clear that the Noble Sanctuary faces the same threats as it did 50 years ago, perhaps even more so.

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