Tensions Flare As Israeli Police Enter Al-Aqsa Mosque Again
Atleast 19 people were reportedly injured as Israeli police carried out the second raid at the mosque since Friday-Sub headline.
Israeli police have entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as worshippers gathered for early morning prayers, two days after detaining hundreds at the site in another raid at the mosque.
Israeli authorities said they entered the compound on Sunday to facilitate routine visits by far-right Jews to the holy site and that Palestinians had stockpiled stones and set up barriers in the compound.
The police cleared Palestinians out of the sprawling esplanade outside the mosque, while dozens remained inside.
Palestinian medical workers said at least 19 people were injured. Three people were transferred to the hospital after being beaten or hit by rubber-coated bullets, according to The Palestinian Red Cross. The organization said it was prevented from accessing the compound but managed to assist the injured near Bab al-Asbat.
Nine people were arrested, police said, after Palestinians smashed the windows of two buses carrying Jewish visitors to the site, lightly injuring several of them.
Al Jazeera’s Natasha Ghoneim, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said the raid took place ahead of a three-hour timeframe during which non-Muslims are allowed to visit the compound, the third-holiest in Islam and the holiest for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount.
Tensions had been high after the farright Jewish group Return to Temple Mount offered a cash prize to anyone
who went into Al-Aqsa Mosque and sacrificed a goat – a Jewish religious ritual that is prohibited inside the mosque and that would constitute a further provocation.
“This didn’t happen but it went viral on social media,” Ghoneim said, adding that it contributed to a rise in tensions.
The Palestinian Authority on Sunday laid the blame on Israel for the consequences of the current tension at Al-Aqsa.
“We call on the US administration to break its silence and stop this aggression that will inflame the entire region,” authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in a statement carried by state news agency Wafa.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry also condemned the Israeli escalation at the flashpoint site. A ministry statement said the Israeli escalation flouted an Arab and Islamic backlash and was “a continuation of [Israeli] plans to Judaize Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
The head of Hamas warned Israel that “Al-Aqsa is ours and ours alone”.
“Our people have the right to access it and pray in it, and we will not bow down to (Israeli) repression and terror,”
Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis on Sunday called for free access to the holy sites in Jerusalem as he delivered his annual Easter address, which this year coincided with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish festival of Passover.
“May Israelis, Palestinians and all who dwell in the Holy City, together with the pilgrims, experience the beauty of peace, dwell in fraternity and enjoy free access to the Holy Places in mutual respect for the rights of each,” he said