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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist


WATCH: Israeli police attack worshippers in Al-Aqsa Mosque

The fresh violence comes nearly halfway through Ramadan and as Jews prepare to celebrate Passover from Wednesday evening


A Palestinian journalist based in Gaza has told The Citizen, Israeli police appear to have attacked dozens of worshippers in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound injuring at least seven people.

The raid took place before dawn on Wednesday with Israeli police claiming they had entered to dislodge “agitators”, a move denounced as an “unprecedented crime” by the Palestinian movement Hamas.

Watch the video of Israeli soldier storming the Al Aqsa Mosque

Clashes

The fresh violence comes nearly halfway through Ramadan and as Jews prepare to celebrate Passover from Wednesday evening.

Speaking to The Citizen, Wafa al-Udaini said the Israeli soldiers “attacked” worshippers who were sitting in seclusion in the Al-Aqsa mosque.

“They beat them brutally, they attacked women, children, the elderly. They injured so many of them and detained over four hundred Palestinian worshippers.

“As a retalition to this brutal action, the Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip fired missiles into Israel. Israeli aircraft after that bombed several resistance sites across the Gaza Strip and this morning, several Israeli settlers invaded the Al-Aqsa mosque while Israeli soldiers prevented Palestinians from entering while protecting the settlers.

“Actually there is no place safe in Gaza because Israeli war planes are targeting every single place in the Gaza Strip. There are Israeli drones, helicopters and war planes everywhere,” al-Udaini said.

Israeli police

Israeli police said they were forced to enter the mosque after “several law-breaking youths and masked agitators” barricaded themselves inside.

“These instigators fortified it, hours after the (last evening) Taraweeh prayer in order to disrupt public order and desecrate the mosque,” the police said in a statement.

Similar clashes two years ago erupted into an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

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Injuries

According to Al Jazeera, the Palestinian Red Crescent reported injuries but did not elaborate on how many people were hurt, saying that Israeli forces were preventing its medics from reaching Al-Aqsa.

“I was sitting on a chair reciting (Qur’an),” an elderly woman told the Reuters news agency while sitting outside the mosque, struggling to catch her breath. “They hurled stun grenades, one of them hit my chest,” she said as she began to cry.

According to The Palestine Information Network (Pin) in South Africa, after entering Masjid al-Aqsa Israeli forces reportedly destroyed windows of the mosque throwing gas bombs and sound grenades at worshippers.

“A fire broke out at the Qibli Musallah, and structural damage was incurred to parts of the Masjid,” it said.

Air strikes

Meanwhile, Israeli planes struck Gaza early on Wednesday, following rocket fire from the enclave toward Israel after Israeli police raid at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound overnight.

Hamas Radio said the Israeli strikes hit two training camps, one in Gaza City and another in a refugee camp.

Condemnation

Jordan and Egypt, both involved in recent US-backed efforts to de-escalate tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, issued separate statements condemning the incident.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also condemned the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported the ministry “expressed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s condemnation and rejection of the blatant storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque’s compound.

“These practices undermine peace efforts,” the ministry said, reaffirming its firm position in supporting all efforts aimed at ending the occupation and reaching a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause.”

Confrontations

Confrontations at Al-Aqsa, the third-holiest shrine in Islam and the most sacred site in Judaism in which it is referred to as the Temple Mount – have sparked deadly cross-border wars between Israel and  Hamas rulers in the past – the last being in 2021.

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