Home Middle East Al-Aqsa clashes escalate as Israeli forces launch second attack on Palestinians

Al-Aqsa clashes escalate as Israeli forces launch second attack on Palestinians

Second raid on Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by Israeli police raises international concern as rubber bullets fired at Palestinian worshippers.


For the second consecutive night, Israeli forces stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan evening prayers, firing rubber bullets and stun grenades at hundreds of Palestinian worshippers. Police entered the compound in Jerusalem late Wednesday night, using stun grenades and rubber bullets to force people to leave. The Palestinian Red Crescent said six people were wounded. The two raids drew heavy criticism from various leaders and organisations across the world, with the United Nations Security Council set to meet for a closed-door session to discuss the continued Israeli raids on Palestinian worshippers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.
Following the raid on Wednesday night, a teenage Palestinian was shot in the arm by an Israeli settler in occupied East Jerusalem, and Israeli forces used force on protesting Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. Palestinian news agency Wafa reported violence in Nablus and near the cities of Hebron, Jenin and Bethlehem. At least one person was wounded by live ammunition in the town of Beit Ummar near Hebron, while dozens were hurt when they inhaled poisonous gas fired by Israeli forces, it said.
The Israeli police blamed the two raids on “dozens of young people” who allegedly brought rocks and firecrackers into the mosque and tried to barricade themselves inside. The Waqf said police entered the mosque before prayers were over. Witnesses said worshippers threw objects at police to keep them away.
Palestinian envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour condemned the raid, saying Israel has “no right whatsoever to tell people when to pray and when not to pray” at Al-Aqsa. He noted that only Palestinian Muslims could practise their religion there, referring to a longstanding “status quo” arrangement governing the compound that states that non-Muslims can only visit the compound.
The complex is also Judaism’s most sacred site, revered as Temple Mount, a vestige of the two biblical Jewish temples. More Jewish visitors are trying to pray at the compound despite the arrangement, and despite it being forbidden by Israel’s main ultra-Orthodox rabbinates.
A night earlier, a similar raid saw the arrest of more than 400 people. Reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, Al Jazeera’s Natasha Ghoneim said that after the first assault on Al-Aqsa, Palestinian groups, including Hamas – which governs the blockaded Gaza Strip – called on Muslims to defend the compound “from occupiers”.
“The reason this call was going out was that Wednesday was Passover for Jews and there was expected, during visiting hours to be a greater number of Jews visiting the Al-Aqsa compound,” she said.
These visits, she added, were a “very hot-button issue” for Palestinians.
“The Jews that tend to go into the compound are nationalists. They possess a very conservative ideology. They are prohibited from praying inside the compound, but we know that that ban has been violated on numerous occasions and that, again, is a real provocation to not only Muslims but all Palestinians,” she said.
On Wednesday, after the first raid, nine rockets were fired towards Israel from the Gaza Strip, after which the Israeli military launched air attacks on the blockaded coastal enclave, hitting what it said were weapon production sites for the Hamas group. Later that night, Palestinian groups fired two rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, and thousands of people rallied near the separation barrier between the besieged enclave and Israel to protest. The Israeli military said one of the rockets fell short, and the other in an open space.
Hamas did not claim responsibility for the rockets but said they were a response to the raid on Al-Aqsa, where clashes in 2021 were followed by an 11-day Israeli offensive on Gaza. No casualties were reported in either Gaza or Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country was working to “calm tensions

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