Israeli Police have raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, with doctors saying at least 90 Palestinians have been injured in the violence that followed.
The Islamic endowment that runs the site said Israeli police entered in force before dawn on Friday, April 15, 2022, as thousands of worshippers gathered at the mosque for early morning prayers. Videos circulating online showed Palestinians throwing rocks and police firing tear gas and stun grenades. Other videos also showed worshippers barricading themselves inside the mosque amid what appeared to be clouds of tear gas.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service, it has evacuated the majority of wounded individuals to hospitals. The endowment said one of the guards at the site was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet. The Palestinian Red Crescent also added that Israeli Forces hindered the arrival of ambulances and paramedics from reaching the mosque, as Palestinian media said that dozens of injured worshippers remained trapped inside the compound.
Israeli Police intimated that they entered the compound, the third holiest site in Islam and respected by Jews as the Temple Mount, to break up a “violent” crowd that remained at the end of the morning prayers. They said they went in “to disperse and push back” the crowd after a group of Palestinians began throwing rocks toward the nearby Jewish prayer space of the Western Wall.
According to a local reporter, Najwan al-Samri, Israeli Police Forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound without pretext and assaulted worshipers near the Qibly Prayer Hall following the morning prayer. She also added that the escalation came as far-right Jewish Groups called for raids of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during the Jewish Passover holiday, and the offering of animal sacrifices in its courtyards, which has not occurred since ancient times.
Tensions have escalated in recent weeks. Israel has been carrying out arrests and military raids in the illegally occupied West Bank, in the wake of a series of deadly attacks by Palestinians inside Israel, setting off clashes in which several Palestinians have been killed, including seven since Wednesday, April 13, 2022. Tens of thousands of Palestinians were expected to gather at Al-Aqsa for Friday, April 15, 2022 prayers, as Muslims continued to observe the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Recap of an Earlier Protest
As it stands, weeks of protests and raids on Al-Aqsa during Ramadan last year escalated into an 11-day assault on the besieged Gaza Strip.
The war led to the deaths of at least 232 Palestinians, as well as 12 Israelis, as well as significant destructions, adding up to the already impoverished territory. Ramadan this year coincides with the Jewish Passover holiday and Christian holy week, bringing thousands of pilgrims and other visitors to Jerusalem.