PA Mufti: Israel desecrates and attacks Al-Aqsa Mosque
Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida - Feb. 17, 2015

 
     “Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Holy Lands [Sheikh] Muhammad Hussein stressed that the [Al-Aqsa Mosque’s] prayer halls, domes, gates, passageways, stone benches, and auxiliary structures form an inseparable part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque… He noted that the offensive Israeli excavations [under the Al-Aqsa Mosque] were merely [a result of] false claims regarding the presence of holy sites and relics beneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque - [made] as part of [a campaign] to promote Israel’s tourism and economy, and to attract tourists and more Jews from around the world to Palestine.
He [Sheikh Muhammad Hussein] noted that they [Israel] had already attacked the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1996, [at which] the Palestinian people came out against them in what became known as the “Tunnel Uprising” (i.e., the Western Wall tunnel riots, see below), and also in 1996, when they tried to lay the cornerstone for Solomon’s alleged temple, after which the Murabitin (i.e., those carrying out Ribat, religious conflict/war to protect land claimed to be Islamic) came out and confronted them [in clashes] which claimed [the lives] of 20 Martyrs (Shahids). Then came [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s [sic.; should be Ariel Sharon’s] attempt to defile the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa [Mosque] in September 2000, which led to the blessed second Intifada (i.e., the Al-Aqsa Intifada, the PA terror campaign 2000-2005) which started in the Al-Aqsa courtyards in order to defend Al-Aqsa from the attempts to desecrate it, take control over it and provoke the Muslims’ sensibilities… [Sheikh Muhammad Hussein] added that [Israel is aware that,] in desecrating the holy places and the places of worship, it has ignited a deadly game, and that whoever perpetrates crimes against us and our holy places must bear the consequences. He called for the continuation of the popular uprisings and Ribat (i.e., religious war over land claimed to be Islamic), as the Palestinian nation has [already] proven that it is capable of preventing and thwarting the Zionist invasions.”
From WAFA, independent Palestinian news agency

Note: Western Wall Tunnel clashes/fighting - refers to three days of Palestinian-Israeli fighting in September 1996. When Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu opened a tunnel near the Temple Mount to ease access to and from the Western Wall, Arafat called for Palestinians to protest violently.