258 storming Al-Aqsa and preventing the call to prayer 704 times in the Ibrahimi Mosque in 2023 258 storming Al-Aqsa and preventing the call to prayer 704 times in the Ibrahimi Mosque in 2023

258 storming Al-Aqsa and preventing the call to prayer 704 times in the Ibrahimi Mosque in 2023

258 storming Al-Aqsa and preventing the call to prayer 704 times in the Ibrahimi Mosque in 2023

During the year 2023, Al-Aqsa Mosque was stormed by settlers and the occupation army 258 times, while the call to prayer was prevented 704 times in the Ibrahimi Mosque in the city of Hebron in the southern West Bank, according to a report issued by the Palestinian Ministry of Endowments.

A report issued by the Palestinian Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs, on Sunday, stated that Al-Aqsa Mosque was stormed by settlers and the Israeli occupation army 258 times, while the call to prayer was prevented 704 times in the Ibrahimi Mosque in the city of Hebron, in the southern West Bank, during the year 2023.

The Ministry's annual report stated that "the occupation stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque 258 times, prevented the call to prayer 704 times in the Ibrahimi Mosque, and attacked 388 mosques in the Gaza Strip during 2023."

According to the report, the year 2023 witnessed “an increase in the number of mosques that were subjected to violations as a result of the unjust war that our people were subjected to in the Gaza Strip, the result of which, with regard to mosques, was 388 mosques being destroyed.”

He explained that among the damaged mosques in Gaza, “145 (mosques) were completely destroyed, while 243 mosques were partially destroyed, preventing prayers from being held in the appropriate manner.”

As for the occupied West Bank, the Ministry indicated that a number of mosques were “attacked and vandalized by settlers and the occupation army,” especially in Hebron and during the ongoing raids on the cities of Jenin and Tulkarm (north).

She pointed out that "the occupation authorities turned Al-Aqsa Mosque and its surroundings into a military barracks, especially on their various holidays, and attacked the safe worshipers there, sometimes by beating them and sometimes by arresting and deporting them."

The ministry stated that Israeli forces "have restricted Palestinian citizens during their attempts to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque for Friday prayers since October 7th."

Since the outbreak of the devastating Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip on October 7, the Israeli occupation army has intensified its operations in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and expanded the incursions and raids that resulted in the martyrdom of dozens and the arrest of thousands.

“Mysterious” incidents in the southern Red Sea Who is behind them?

In conjunction with the attacks by the Yemeni Houthi group in the Red Sea on Israeli ships or heading to Israeli ports, the region extending from the Gulf of Aden to the Arabian Sea and even the Indian Ocean witnessed operations targeting ships on the international maritime trade route, which raises questions about the party behind these operations.

If the Houthis claimed responsibility for many of the operations that targeted Israeli ships or those related to Tel Aviv, then similar operations, whether in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, or even the Indian Ocean, were not claimed by any party, although the finger of blame was pointed either at the Houthis, or at Iran, or at Somali pirates. In the Puntland region ( Puntland ).

Eritrea is on the verge of conflict
Among these operations, the British Maritime Trade Operations Authority announced on January 16 that 4 suspicious boats approached a ship within 400 meters, but moved away after the ship’s guards fired warning shots into the seawater, prompting the boats to leave.

The British Authority did not mention who the ship was tracking, nor even the flag it was flying, nor the identity of the attackers, nor did any party claim responsibility for the attack.

Given that the attack occurred north of the port of Assab, which is located southeast of Eritrea and opposite the Yemeni port of Mokha, which is under the control of the Houthi group, it is not unlikely that the Houthis were behind the operation, which did not achieve its goal.

The southern Red Sea is an area of ​​activity for the Houthi group, and it is unlikely that Somali pirates were behind that attack given the distance and the attackers’ use of boats and not ships that can sail long distances and cross the Bab al-Mandab Strait, which is full of American and international warships.

But the interesting thing is that the Eritrean port of Assab, near which the incident occurred, has had an Iranian military base since 2009. What is even stranger is that Israel has a military base in the Dahlak Archipelago (east) and a second eavesdropping base at the summit of Emba Suwayra, the highest mountain in the country (southeast). In addition to a military presence in the port of Massawa, east of the capital, Asmara, according to Lebanese researcher Ibrahim Alloush.

This presence of the two largest regional enemies in the Middle East, in the south of Eritrea (Iran) and the north (Israel), was not without incidents whose perpetrator was anonymous, such as the targeting of two Israeli bases in Eritrea on October 26 last, 19 days after the beginning of the war on Gaza and before One day from the beginning of the ground war on the Strip.

Therefore, the Assab Port ship accident cannot be ruled out as being related to the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, the Houthis’ attempt to break the siege on Gaza, or an expression of the conflict between Tehran and Tel Aviv in the southern Red Sea.

What will confirm this hypothesis is revealing the identity of the ship and whether it has a relationship with Israel or Iran.

The conflict extends to the Indian Ocean
The targeting of Israeli ships is no longer limited to the Red Sea. Rather, the war expanded to the Indian Ocean after the British Maritime Trade Operations Authority announced on December 23 that a drone had targeted a container ship owned by an Israeli businessman, about 370 kilometers southwest of the Indian port of Veraval.

Washington pointed the finger directly at Iran, despite its denial that it was behind this attack, and the Houthis were not mentioned given the distance between them and the eastern Indian Ocean, although they usually announce their successful operations in targeting Israeli ships, and they have previously targeted a port. Israeli Eilat (south) with drones and ballistic missiles.

Somali pirates can also be excluded because they do not have drones that can reach the eastern Indian Ocean, as their tactics depend on the use of speedboats and a few individuals armed with light weapons.

But the most important message that the attackers sent to the Israeli ships, according to observers, is that they are unsafe even if they change their course towards the Cape of Good Hope, away from the Bab al-Mandab Strait and the Suez Canal.

Somali pirates dominate the towns Haradhere, Hobyo and El-Hur which has forced most of the local population to flee in fear of concentrated military action from the richest nations on the world against the pirates.  An increase in piracy off the Indian Ocean coast of Somalia has made these waters the most dangerous for pirate activities in the world, with 93 attacks in 2008, shipping companies say.

The return of the Somali pirates
Although most of the attacks targeting ships on the main maritime trade route between Asia and Europe via the Red Sea are blamed on the Houthis in the first place and the Iranians in the second place, the Somali pirates have returned to the forefront after their role declined during the last four years.

Since the beginning of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, there have been several incidents targeting ships. Last November, pirates suspected of being Somali hijacked an Iranian fishing vessel in the Gulf of Aden and demanded a ransom, which denies their relationship with the Houthis and Tehran, or the assumption of sympathy with the residents of the Gaza Strip.

Two days later, unidentified gunmen on board speed boats attempted to hijack the Central Park oil tanker owned by Israelis in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of the Somali region of Puntland, but the US Navy chased them and arrested 5 of them.

Several reports indicated that the unidentified gunmen are nothing but Somali pirates, without the purpose of targeting an Israeli oil tanker being immediately clear, at a time when the focus in the last three months of 2023 was on the hijacking of Iranian fishing vessels, such as the hijacking of two Iranian fishing vessels in September. The past, that is, before the outbreak of the war on the Gaza Strip.

The hijacking of a commercial ship carrying the Maltese flag was also recorded in the Arabian Sea last December near the Yemeni island of Socotra , according to the European Union Naval Force.

Although the Spanish Ministry of Defense described the hijackers as unknown attackers, Western media reports classified the incident as the first hijacking of a commercial ship by Somali pirates since 2017.

Whether the Houthis, Iran, or Somali pirates are behind these attacks on fishing or shipping ships or oil tankers, this will have negative repercussions on one of the most important global shipping routes, and the continuation of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip would open more than one front to the conflict.

"Houthi" reveals the "simplest solution" for ships to safely cross the Red Sea

The Yemeni Houthi group revealed a method for ships to cross the Red Sea “safely” by raising a banner reading “We have no relation to Israel” on its automatic identification plate, explaining that 64 ships used this method and crossed without being attacked.

The Yemeni Houthi group announced on Sunday that 64 ships had crossed the Red Sea “safely,” after raising the banner “We have no relation to Israel.”

This came in a post by a member of the group’s Supreme Political Council, Muhammad Ali Al-Houthi, on the X platform, in light of the escalation of tension in the Red Sea between the Yemeni group on the one hand, and the United States and Britain on the other hand.

Al-Houthi said: "The simplest solution that allows ships to pass safely while crossing the Red Sea is to put the phrase (We have no relation to Israel) on their automatic identification plate."

He added, "This solution has proven its effectiveness as 64 ships have crossed the sea safely while wearing this ferry," since the group's operations against Israeli ships began last November.

He continued: "Britain and America, with their reckless steps and terrorist attacks on the Republic of Yemen, have brought the greatest harm to the world, and to Europe in particular."

He added: "What has happened so far has proven the failure of their operations, and has proven that by militarizing the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea and preventing the passage of commercial ships, they are attacking international navigation."

On Wednesday, the United States announced the reclassification of the Ansar Allah group, also known as the Houthis, as a “global terrorist organization,” according to two statements issued by US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

In solidarity with the Gaza Strip, which since October 7, 2023, has been exposed to a devastating Israeli war with American support, the Houthis are targeting, with missiles and drones, cargo ships in the Red Sea that are owned or operated by Israeli companies or that transport goods to and from Israel.

Tensions in the Red Sea have entered a phase of remarkable escalation since, on January 9, the Houthis directly targeted an American ship, after they were targeting, within the framework of solidarity with the Gaza Strip, cargo ships owned or operated by Israeli companies or transporting goods to and from Israel.

On January 12, the White House announced in a joint statement from 10 countries that, “In response to the Houthi attacks against commercial ships in the Red Sea, the American and British armed forces carried out joint attacks against targets in areas controlled by the Houthis in Yemen.”

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