The holy web site, which is sacred to Jews and Muslims, has usually been the epicenter of Israeli-Palestinian unrest, and tensions have been already heightened amid a current wave of violence. Clashes on the web site final 12 months helped spark an 11-day struggle with Hamas militants within the Gaza Strip.
The clashes come at a very delicate time. Ramadan this 12 months coincides with Passover, a significant weeklong Jewish vacation starting Friday at sunset, and Christian holy week, which culminates on Easter Sunday. The vacations are anticipated to convey tens of 1000’s of devoted into Jerusalem’s Outdated Metropolis, house to main websites sacred to all three religions.
Hours after the clashes started, the police introduced that that they had put an finish to the violence and arrested “hundreds” of suspects. They mentioned the mosque was re-opened and that Friday’s noon prayers would happen as traditional. Tens of 1000’s of individuals have been anticipated.
Israeli authorities mentioned that they had earlier held negotiations with Muslim leaders to make sure calm and permit the prayers to happen, however that Palestinian youths hurled stones at police, triggering the violence. Palestinian witnesses, who spoke on situation of anonymity out of safety considerations, mentioned a small group of Palestinians threw rocks at police, who then entered the compound in pressure, setting off a wider conflagration.
Movies circulating on-line confirmed Palestinians throwing rocks and fireworks and police firing tear gasoline and stun grenades on the sprawling esplanade surrounding the mosque. Others confirmed worshippers barricading themselves contained in the mosque.
Later within the morning, Israeli police entered the mosque and have been arresting individuals. Israeli safety forces hardly ever enter the constructing, and after they do it’s seen by Palestinians as a significant escalation.
The Palestinian Purple Crescent emergency service mentioned it handled 152 individuals, a lot of them wounded by rubber-coated bullets or stun grenades, or overwhelmed with batons. The endowment mentioned one of many guards on the web site was shot within the eye with a rubber bullet.
The Israeli police mentioned three officers have been wounded from “massive stone-throwing,” with two evacuated from the scene for therapy.
The Israeli International Ministry mentioned that dozens of masked males carrying Palestinian and Hamas flags had marched to the compound earlier than daybreak on Friday and gathered stones and different objects in anticipation of unrest.
“Police were forced to enter the grounds to disperse the crowd and remove the stones and rocks, in order to prevent further violence,” it tweeted.
The police mentioned they waited till prayers have been over and the crowds began to disperse. In an announcement, it mentioned crowds began hurling rocks within the route of the Western Wall, a close-by Jewish holy web site, forcing them to behave.
Palestinians view any giant deployment of police at Al-Aqsa as a significant provocation.
Israel’s nationwide safety minister, Omer Barlev, who oversees the police pressure, mentioned Israel had “no interest” in violence on the holy web site however that police have been compelled to confront “violent elements” that attacked them with stones and steel bars. He mentioned Israel was dedicated to freedom of worship for Jews and Muslims alike.
The mosque is the third holiest web site in Islam. It’s constructed on a hilltop in Jerusalem’s Outdated Metropolis that’s the most sacred web site for Jews, who check with it because the Temple Mount as a result of it was the location of the Jewish temples in antiquity. It has been a significant flashpoint for Israeli-Palestinian violence for many years and was the epicenter of the 2000-2005 Palestinian intifada, or rebellion.
Israel captured east Jerusalem, house to Al-Aqsa and different main holy websites, within the 1967 struggle and annexed it in a transfer not acknowledged internationally. Palestinians need the jap a part of the town to be the capital of a future unbiased state together with the West Financial institution and Gaza, which Israel additionally captured through the struggle practically 55 years in the past.
Tensions have soared in current weeks following a sequence of assaults by Palestinians that killed 14 individuals inside Israel. Israel has carried out a wave of arrests and navy operations throughout the occupied West Financial institution, setting off clashes with Palestinians.
The Palestinian Well being Ministry mentioned a 17-year-old died early Friday from wounds suffered throughout clashes with Israeli forces in Jenin, within the occupied West Financial institution, the day earlier than.
Not less than 25 Palestinians have been killed within the current wave of violence, in keeping with an Related Press depend, a lot of whom had carried out assaults or have been concerned within the clashes, but in addition an unarmed lady and a lawyer who seems to have been killed by mistake.
Weeks of protests and clashes in Jerusalem throughout Ramadan final 12 months ultimately ignited an 11-day struggle with Hamas, the Islamic militant group that guidelines the Gaza Strip.
Israel had lifted restrictions and brought different steps to attempt to calm tensions forward of Ramadan, however the assaults and the navy raids have led to one other cycle of unrest.
Hamas condemned what it mentioned have been “brutal attacks” on worshippers at Al-Aqsa by Israeli forces, saying Israel would bear “all the consequences.” It known as on all Palestinians to “stand by our people in Jerusalem.”
Earlier this week, Hamas and different militant teams in Gaza had known as on Palestinians to camp out on the Al-Aqsa mosque over the weekend. Palestinians have lengthy feared that Israel plans to take over the location or partition it.
Israeli authorities say they’re dedicated to sustaining the established order, however in recent times nationalist and spiritual Jews have visited the location in giant numbers with police escorts.
In current weeks, a radical Jewish group had known as on individuals to convey animals to the location so as to sacrifice them for Passover, providing money rewards for many who succeeded and even tried. Israeli police work to forestall such actions, however the name was extensively circulated by Palestinians on social media, together with requires Muslims to forestall any sacrifices from going down.
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall, issued an announcement calling on Muslim leaders to behave to cease the violence. It additionally famous that “bringing a sacrifice to the Temple Mount today is in opposition to the decision of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.”
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