Israel comes under fire after clashes at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem
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After violence in the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, where the Israeli security forces have dislodged Palestinians, international condemnations are multiplying on Wednesday. Two new rockets were fired Wednesday evening from the Gaza Strip towards Israel.
International condemnations multiply on Wednesday April 5 after violence in the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, where the Israeli police intervened to dislodge Palestinian worshipers, in the middle of the religious holiday season.
In riot gear, Israeli police burst into the mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday and arrested more than 350 people who had barricaded themselves there, described as “rioters” by the police.
Again on Wednesday, crowds of Muslims gathered in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque for the nightly Ramadan prayers. According to Israeli police, “dozens of outlaws, some in masks, fired fireworks and rocks into the mosque.”
The police prevented them from barricading themselves there and dispersed them, allowing a return to calm, she reported in a press release. Israeli forces blocked access to the site, AFP journalists noted.
The White House “extremely concerned”
This violence comes at a time when Muslims have reached the middle of the month of Ramadan and when Jews have been celebrating Passover since Wednesday evening, in a particularly tense climate between Israelis and Palestinians since the beginning of the year.
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The head of the UN, Antonio Guterres, said he was “shocked and dismayed” by the “violence and beatings” of the Israeli security forces, according to his spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric.
The White House said it was “extremely concerned”, calling on “all parties to avoid further escalation”, as two new rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Wednesday evening – according to the Israeli army and witnesses – after similar shootings the previous night which resulted in Israeli strikes.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque is located on the Esplanade of the Mosques, in East Jerusalem, the Palestinian sector of the Holy City occupied and annexed by Israel. The esplanade is built on what the Jews call the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism.
On the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, Israeli forces armed with “sticks, weapons, tear gas canisters and smoke bombs” burst into the mosque, “breaking doors and windows”, while worshipers there were gathered to pray at night, Abdelkarim Ikraiem, a 74-year-old Palestinian, told AFP.
A video widely circulated on social networks shows police clubbing people on the ground inside the building. The Palestinian Red Crescent said on Wednesday it had treated at least 37 wounded.
Israeli police have released a video showing explosions of what appears to be heavy fireworks inside the shrine, including figures throwing rocks. Other images show police advancing, protecting themselves with shields, a barricaded door and batteries of fireworks on the ground.
Police say one officer was injured by a rock in the leg. “These leaders barricaded themselves several hours after (the last evening prayers) in order to attack public order and desecrate the mosque”, while chanting “slogans inciting hatred and violence”, a- she said in a statement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said security forces were “forced to act to restore order” in the face of “extremists”.
On Wednesday evening, the spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abou Roudeina, considered that the new Israeli “attack” against the Al-Aqsa mosque underlined the will of the Israeli government “to precipitate the region into instability”.
Earlier, Jordan, which administers Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, had expressed alarm at “continued attacks that could lead to escalation”.
“Trampling the Al-Aqsa mosque is our red line”, also said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while the Arab League, which organized an extraordinary meeting, warned against “provocations” hurting “feelings believers”.
The Palestinian movement Hamas, in power in Gaza, denounced an “unprecedented crime”.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has experienced a new outbreak of violence since the inauguration, at the end of December, of one of the most right-wing governments in the history of Israel. Nearly 110 people have died since the start of the year. In May 2021, after violence on the compound and elsewhere in East Jerusalem, Hamas fired rockets into Israel, resulting in an eleven-day war.