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Around 3,000 worshipers at Al-Azhar Mosque broke out into chants supporting the liberation of Jerusalem from Israeli control, as Hamas' leader in the Gaza Strip took to the podium to speak after Friday prayers.
The protesters could be heard chanting, “We sacrifice our blood and souls for Al-Aqsa [Mosque in Jerusalem].”
Ismail Haniyeh, the disputed prime minister of the Palestinian Authority who is currently on a visit to Cairo, told worshipers that despite the suffering of the Palestinian people ― including torture, destruction and death ― they are “determined not to recognize the Zionist entity [Israel] whatever the cost,” according to the Al-Wafd newspaper's website.
The worshipers held up banners in support of the Palestinian fight against Israel, such as, “The people want to liberate Palestine.”
Haniyeh assured those in attendance that Hamas will continue to resist Israeli occupation.
Those chanting also called for something to be done to end the Syrian military's crackdown on its own civilians. The Hamas leader saluted the “great people of Syria” for their struggle for freedom and rights that had been taken from them.
He also congratulated all the nations of the Arab Spring, and called for continued support for citizens of these countries until they achieve their freedom, according to the state-run Al-Akhbar newspaper's website.
The Jerusalem committees of both the Arab Doctors Union and the World Federation of Muslim Scientists, as well as other political forces, called last week for a demonstration at Al-Azhar Mosque to support saving Al-Aqsa Mosque and support the Syrian people.
News reports on Friday said that Palestinians and Israeli security forces were fighting around the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, an important religious site for Muslims. Palestinian youths throwing rocks and Israeli soldiers firing tear gas have clashed around the site in recent days amid reports that Israeli authorities had allowed Jewish extremists in to incite Palestinians, according to the US news website CNN.