Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

JERUSALEM — Israeli police stormed into the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Previous Metropolis early Wednesday, firing stun grenades at Palestinian youths who hurled firecrackers at them in a burst of violence throughout a delicate vacation season. Palestinian militants in Gaza responded with rocket fireplace on southern Israel, prompting repeated Israeli airstrikes.

The preventing, coming as Muslims mark the vacation month of Ramadan and Jews put together to start the Passover competition on Wednesday night, raised fears of a wider conflagration. Comparable clashes two years in the past erupted right into a bloody 11-day struggle between Israel and the ruling Hamas militant group in Gaza. The official Palestinian information company Wafa stated that dozens of worshippers who have been spending the evening praying have been injured within the police raid. The Israeli army stated one soldier was shot in a separate incident within the occupied West Financial institution.

The mosque sits on a delicate hilltop compound holy to each Jews and Muslims. Al-Aqsa is the third-holiest website in Islam and is usually filled with worshippers throughout Ramadan. In a single day, the scene of festive holiday-makers picnicking and praying on the holy website reworked into one among violence, as Israeli police stormed into the mosque, firing tear fuel and stun grenades that shattered stained-glass home windows and fiercely beating worshippers with golf equipment and rifle butts, witnesses stated.

The spot, recognized to Jews because the Temple Mount, can also be the holiest website in Judaism, revered as the placement of the biblical Jewish temples. The conflicting claims gasoline fixed tensions which have spilled over to violence quite a few instances previously.

Since Ramadan started March 22, scores of Muslim worshippers have been attempting to remain in a single day within the mosque, a observe that’s sometimes permitted solely over the last 10 days of the monthlong vacation. Israeli police have entered nightly to evict the worshippers, stirring tensions with younger Palestinians who demand to hope on the holy website till daybreak.

Tensions over management of the holy website have been heightened by calls from Jewish ultranationalists to hold out a ritual slaughter of a goat within the compound, imitating the traditional ritual sacrifice executed on Passover in biblical instances. Israel bars ritual slaughters on the positioning, however calls by Jewish extremists to revive the observe, together with gives of money rewards to anybody who even makes an attempt to convey an animal into the compound, have amplified fears amongst Muslims that Israel is plotting to take over the positioning. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated he’s dedicated to preserving the established order on the compound.

After some 80,000 worshippers attended night prayers on the mosque on Tuesday, lots of of Palestinians barricaded themselves contained in the mosque in a single day to hope. Worshippers stated that after they refused to depart, Israeli police moved into the mosque, descending on Palestinians with batons.

Israeli police stated they moved in after “a number of law-breaking youths and masked agitators” introduced fireworks, sticks and stones and barricaded themselves into the mosque. Police stated the youths chanted violent slogans and locked the entrance doorways.

“After many and extended makes an attempt to get them out by speaking to no avail, police forces have been compelled to enter the compound so as to get them out,” police stated.

Video launched by police confirmed the repeated explosions of fireworks contained in the mosque. One beginner video taken by Palestinians confirmed police struggling with individuals and beating them — at one level breaking a chair over somebody’s head — as a girl’s voice could possibly be heard shouting, “Oh God. Oh God.”

Outdoors the gate, police dispersed teams of youths with stun grenades and rubber bullets.

Police stated one officer was injured within the leg, whereas some 350 individuals have been arrested. They launched photos of fireworks and not less than one massive stone that appeared to have been hurled.

The Jordan-controlled Islamic belief that administers the positioning, often known as the Waqf, condemned the Israeli actions on the holy website as a “flagrant violation of the id and performance of the mosque as a spot of worship for Muslims.”

Worshippers trickling out of the police station on Wednesday stated they have been launched on the situation of not getting into the mosque or the Previous Metropolis for one week. Palestinians below the age of 45 weren’t permitted to enter the compound for daybreak prayers.

Talab Abu Eisha, 49, stated greater than 400 males, girls and kids have been praying at Al-Aqsa when the police encircled the mosque.

“The youths have been afraid and began closing the doorways,” he stated, including that police forces “stormed the jap nook, beating and arresting males there.”

”It was an unprecedented scene of violence by way of police brutality,” he stated, denying police claims that younger males have been hiding fireworks and rocks.

Palestinian militants responded by firing a barrage of rockets from Gaza into southern Israel, setting off air raid sirens within the area as residents have been getting ready for the start of the weeklong Passover vacation.

The Israeli army stated a complete of 5 rockets have been fired, and all have been intercepted. Hours later, Israel responded with airstrikes that the military stated hit Hamas weapons storage and manufacturing websites.

“We don’t need this to escalate.,” stated Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, a military spokesman. However he stated that if the rocket fireplace endured, “we are going to reply very aggressively.”

By early morning, the Jerusalem compound had quieted down, and some dozen non secular Jews have been seen filtering by the positioning forward of Passover throughout common morning visiting hours, as small crowds Muslims gathered round them shouting, “God is larger!”

Jews are permitted to go to the compound, however not pray there, below longstanding agreements. However such visits, which have grown in numbers in recent times, have added to Palestinian suspicions, notably as a result of some Jews are sometimes seen quietly praying.

Mainstream Orthodox Jews, together with Israel’s chief rabbi, vehemently oppose Jewish visits to the positioning. Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the pinnacle rabbi of the adjoining Western Wall, the holiest place the place Jews can pray, stated Tuesday that he would forestall any animals convey delivered to the doorway to the positioning.

Tensions have been steadily rising since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new far-right authorities took workplace late final 12 months. The federal government is dominated by non secular and ultranationalist hard-liners, and the overlap of the Jewish and Muslim holidays – when tens of hundreds of worshippers make their technique to contested Jerusalem — has raised fears of violence.

The police pressure is overseen by Itamar Ben-Gvir, an ultranationalist with a historical past of violent rhetoric and actions in opposition to Palestinians.

Ben-Gvir wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning that the federal government “wants to reply mightily to rocket fireplace from Gaza, rocket fireplace by Hamas calls for a response past blowing up dunes and unmanned positions.”

In Gaza, Hamas known as for giant protests and other people began gathering within the streets, with calls to move for the closely guarded Gaza-Israel frontier for extra violent demonstrations.

The Palestinian militant teams Hamas and Islamic Jihad additionally known as for Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, the West Financial institution, and Israel to collect round Al-Aqsa Mosque and confront Israeli forces.

Ziyad al-Nakhala, chief of Islamic Jihad, stated the state of affairs at Al-Aqsa was a “critical risk.” He stated that Palestinians have to be ready “for the inevitable confrontation within the coming days.”

Within the occupied West Financial institution, the Palestinian management condemned the assault on the worshippers. The spokesman of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, warned Israel that such a transfer “exceeds all crimson traces and can result in a big explosion.”

The federal government of Jordan condemned the Israeli raid “within the strongest phrases.” The Overseas Ministry warned “of the implications of this harmful escalation and held Israel liable for the security of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

The overseas ministries of Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia additionally condemned what they described as an Israeli intrusion into Al-Aqsa.

As violence was unfolding in Jerusalem, the Israeli army reported preventing in a Palestinian city within the occupied West Financial institution. It stated residents of Beit Umar, close to the risky metropolis of Hebron, burned tires, hurled rocks and explosives at troopers. It stated one soldier was shot by armed suspects, who managed to flee.

Earlier on Tuesday, a Palestinian suspect stabbed two Israeli troopers close to a military base south of Tel Aviv, the army stated, within the newest incident in a yearlong spate of violence that exhibits no signal of abating.

Israeli-Palestinian violence has surged over the past 12 months, because the Israeli army has carried out near-nightly raids on Palestinian cities, cities and villages and as Palestinians have staged quite a few assaults in opposition to Israelis.

At the least 88 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fireplace this 12 months, in response to an Related Press tally. Palestinian assaults in opposition to Israelis have killed 15 individuals in the identical interval. Israel says many of the Palestinians killed have been militants. However stone-throwing youths and bystanders uninvolved in violence have been additionally among the many lifeless. All however one of many Israeli lifeless have been civilians.


Akram reported from Gaza Metropolis, Gaza Strip. Related Press author Ilan Ben Zion in Jerusalem contributed.

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