Eyewitnesses told Aljazeera.net around 200 worshippers scolded Mahir, calling him a “traitor.”
Mahir reportedly fainted and was taken outside the mosque by Islamic wakf (religious trusts) guards who formed a human chain around him.
“He wasn’t physically attacked, and nobody touched him in the first place,” said Muhammed Sub-Laban, who witnessed the incident inside the al-Aqsa complex.
Earlier reports said Mahir was shoved and heckled by some worshippers who were angry at Egypt’s “indecisive stand” towards the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Israeli television quoted Israeli medical sources as saying that Mahir was suffering from “high blood pressure” and “shortness of breath.”
News reports suggested that Mahir had suffered an asthma attack, as he was seen using an inhaler shortly after the incident.
Mahir was immediately transferred to the Hadassah Hospital in West Jerusalem where he underwent a medical examination.
A hospital spokesperson described Mahir’s condition as “generally good.”
Mahir is caught up in a crowd of people as he is lead to safety
An East Jerusalem journalist, Said Ghazali, said the protesters who lambasted Mahir for visiting Israel were Palestinian civilians and had no links with any political organisation.
“They were ordinary youths, I don’t think they are affiliated with any political or religious groups. They are ordinary people who are upset by Mahir’s visit to Jerusalem which comes at a time when Israel is ganging up on the Palestinian people and building the apartheid wall.”
Earlier, Mahir met with top Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and opposition leader Shimon Peres.
Mahir reportedly urged Israel to assist Egyptian efforts to convince Palestinian resistance groups to reach a cease- fire with the Israeli occupation army.
The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz quoted Israeli sources as saying that the visit could pave the way for a summit between Egyptian President Husni Mubarak and Ariel Sharon.
Egyptian President Mubarak issued a statement to Egyptian TV saying that he “deeply regrets the attempts made by a small group of irresponsible Palestinians to assault Foreign Minister Mahir.”
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya told Aljazeera that he was “shocked and furious” over the attack on Mahir, whose country signed the Arab world’s first peace treaty with Israel in 1979.
“We condemn this irresponsible act…and we will pursue this issue to find out who was behind it,” he told Aljazeera.
Palestinian spokesperson Saib Uraiqkat also condemned the incident. “We firmly condemn this kind of action, all the more so that Mr Mahir’s visit aimed to support our people and put an end to Israel’s aggressions.”
An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said the government would investigate the incident.