Israeli police, settlers storm Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque compound
JERUSALEM – Anadolu Agency
A group of Israeli settlers stormed Jerusalem’s flashpoint al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Nov. 5 following clashes between Israeli police forces and Palestinians inside the complex. AA PhotoA group of Israeli settlers stormed Jerusalem’s flashpoint al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Nov. 5 following clashes between Israeli police forces and Palestinians inside the complex, a Palestinian official said.
“The Israeli police allowed the settlers to enter and storm the compound and are now providing them protection,” said Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, director-general of the Organization for Muslim Endowments and al-Aqsa Affairs, a Palestinian NGO.
The incident occurred after violent clashes, during which scores of Palestinians were injured.
“At least 15 Palestinian were injured by rubber bullets, including two in the head and one in the eye, while dozens suffered teargas inhalation,” a Palestinian guard of the holy complex told Anadolu Agency.
As many as 60 Israeli troops stormed into the compound’s courtyards through the al-Magharbeh and al-Silsila gates and began shooting randomly at the worshipers, he said.
Several far-right Jewish groups had been calling over the last week for mass visits to the al-Aqsa complex on Nov. 5 as alleged retribution for the attempted assassination of Rabbi Yehuda Glick in Jerusalem by a Palestinian man.
The clashes took place as tensions soared over demands by Jewish hardliners to be able to pray inside the mosque compound and the expansion of Israeli settlement activity in annexed Arab east Jerusalem. The site is both holy for Muslims and Jews.
“The Israeli forces are trying to evacuate as many Palestinians as possible from the al-Aqsa compound to facilitate the entry of settlers,” Sheikh Omar al-Qiswani, the Palestinian director of the al-Aqsa Mosque, told Anadolu Agency.
Al-Qiswani added that 10 heavily-armed soldiers stormed al-Qibali, another mosque inside the compound.
“The Israeli forces closed the mosque with iron chains to secure settlers’ intrusion,” he added. Some of the Palestinian protesters hurled stones and firecrackers after police opened the Mughrabi Gate to visitors.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld tweeted that the police forces dispersed “rioters, using stun grenades only.”
“The situation on the Temple Mount is quiet after disturbances and it is now open for visitors,” Rosenfeld said using the Jewish term for the complex.
Tension has been running high in east Jerusalem since the Israeli government closed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Oct. 30 following the attack on Glick in the city.
Israeli authorities reopened al-Aqsa on Oct. 31 following a day of violent clashes with Palestinian protesters, but barred male Muslim worshipers under 50 years old from entering the religious site.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned that the closure of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound constituted a “declaration of war” against the Palestinian people and their sacred places.