Some 50 Jewish settlers, flanked by heavily armed Israeli special forces, stormed the site of the occupied Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem in the early hours of the morning, hours after Palestinian worshipers were beaten and assaulted by Israeli police, according to the Islamic authority overseeing the site.
Citing witnesses, the Palestinian news agency WAFA said Israeli police had attacked Palestinian worshipers at dawn at the mosque on Sunday and “beaten them excessively” to make way for Israeli Jewish settlers to storm the compound. , the third holiest site in Islam. .
WAFA added that at least six Palestinians had been arrested, including Fadi Alyan, a guard at the Al-Aqsa Mosque who tried to film the incident, and Ali Wazouz, an employee of the Islamic Waqf Council, the religious body designated by Jordan for overseeing the Al-Aqsa compound.
– Xuds de Xuds (@qudsn) May 23, 2021
– Xuds de Xuds (@qudsn) May 23, 2021
Translation: Protected by the occupation forces, the settlers storm the holy mosque of Aqsa.
The occupation forces withdrew the youths from the Al-Aqsa mosque moments ago.
Israeli police also tightened restrictions on gates leading to Al-Aqsa, preventing worshipers under the age of 45 from entering the mosque.
The ancient marble and stone enclosure, known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the 7th-century rock dome.
The incident comes as a fragile ceasefire remains in the besieged Gaza Strip, days after the end of a brutal 11-day Israeli bombing campaign that killed at least 248 people, including 66 children.
Israeli police crackdown on al-Aqsa mosque worshipers during Ramadan and the threat of forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem had ignited protests in the occupied Palestinian territories, which were also repressed by Israeli police.
Hamas, the group that controls the Gaza Strip, has given Israel a deadline to stop crackdowns. The deadline was ignored, prompting Hamas to fire rockets at Israel and Israel to launch an intense bombing campaign in Gaza.
Hours after a truce, Israeli police stormed the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque after Friday prayers.
In recent days, groups of Israeli hardline settlers have made a call on social media for Jewish faithful to enter the compound. According to their websites, the goal of the groups is to rebuild the Third Jewish Temple on the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
But according to the status quo affirmed in 1967, only Muslims can pray al-Haram al-Sharif.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the site was open for “regular visits” and that police had secured the area to prevent “incidents,” without detailing it, the Associated Press reported.
The Waqf said Sunday that it was the first time Israel had allowed Jewish settlers to visit the site since May 4, a week before the last conflict erupted.
In recent years, a growing number of religious and far-right Israelis have visited the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Palestinians fear Israel’s plans will end up taking over or dividing the enclosure. The Israeli government has repeatedly said it has no intention of changing the status quo, according to which the Waqf oversees the site.
Sunday’s incident was reminiscent of clashes in Jerusalem in early May. Israeli security forces had attacked settlements against the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homes to give way to Jewish settlers in the occupied Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood east of Jerusalem. They had also assaulted Al-Aqsa, wounding hundreds of worshipers and arresting dozens of Palestinians.
The escalation sparked mass violence in Israel and clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli forces have killed 25 Palestinians, including four minors under the age of 18, in the West Bank since May 10, according to local authorities. Israel claims five tried to attack Israeli forces.
Meanwhile, at least 14 Palestinians have been arrested from their homes in several cities in the occupied West Bank on Sunday.
Among them are 16-year-old Mohammed Hajeer from the village of Deir Ibzi near Ramallah, and other young people from the occupied West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus.