Israeli raid on Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem leaves more than 30 Palestinians injured

Tensions heightened by the Muslim holy month of Ramadan coinciding with Jewish celebration of Passover

Shweta Sharma
Friday 22 April 2022 12:13
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Watch live as tension grows outside al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem

At least 31 Palestinians have been injured in clashes after Israeli police raided the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on Friday. It is the latest round of violence at the site as tensions rise in East Jerusalem.

Israeli forces entered the mosque early in the morning, ahead of Friday prayers in the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims, before firing rubber bullets and stun grenades. It was after Palestinian youths reportedly hurled stones at a gate where the authorities were stationed.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service, 14 Palestinians were taken to the hospital, two with serious injuries. Violence at the compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, has surged over the past week, raising concerns about a slide back into more intense conflict.

The incident follows a string of fatal terror attacks in Israel and the deaths of Palestinian civilians during subsequent arrest raids in the West Bank.

On Friday’s violence, Israeli police claimed hundreds of Palestinians began rioting, hurling rocks and fireworks at officers, who waited for the prayers to end, before taking action. It added that some of the protesters carried flags of the Hamas terrorist group, which rules Gaza.

“Police forces were forced to use riot dispersal means and to push the mob back,” the Israeli police statement said. The police added that clashes intensified and moved towards the Western Wall, where Jewish prayers were being held below.

Palestinian demonstrators clash with Israeli police at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound

The Al-Aqsa mosque is a complex in Jerusalem’s Old City which has become a frequent flashpoint for violence between Jews and Muslims. It is the third holiest site in Islam, but its location is also the holiest site in Judaism, known as the Temple Mount.

Israeli police said a police officer was injured after she was hit in the face by a rock and was taken for treatment. A small fire also broke out on a tree atop the compound. While Palestinians blamed Israeli police for setting a tree alight, the police said that the blaze was caused by Palestinians throwing fireworks.

Palestinian men help firefighters douse flames which erupted in trees inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex

The clashes came despite Jewish visitors having been banned from accessing the site till the end of Ramadan on 2 May, as part of a years-long policy of barring non-Muslims from the site during the final 10 days of the Muslim holy month.

On Thursday, Israel said it launched its “most significant” airstrikes on Gaza since last year’s violence, saying it hit a Hamas security post and an underground site reportedly used by the Islamist group to manufacture rocket parts.

The latest string of events has raised fears of a repeat of last year’s devastating 11-day spate of violence between Israel and Hamas. Since the start of March, Israeli forces have killed almost 30 Palestinians in raids in the West Bank, while 14 people have been killed in Israel in a series of deadly street attacks.

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