[News] Israeli forces storm al-Aqsa Mosque for second time in 48 hours

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Sun Apr 17 19:49:21 EDT 2022


middleeasteye.net
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-palestine-aqsa-mosque-jerusalem-storm-raid-settlers>
Israeli forces storm al-Aqsa Mosque for second time in 48 hours
By Lubna Masarwa , Huthifa Fayyad - April 17, 2022
------------------------------

Israeli <https://www.middleeasteye.net/countries/israel> forces stormed
al-Aqsa Mosque early on Sunday, assaulting and blockading Muslim
worshippers inside prayer halls while clearing the way for Israeli settlers
to enter the occupied East Jerusalem holy site.

At around 7am local time, hundreds of special forces entered the mosque's
courtyard and began striking Palestinians
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/countries/palestine> observing Ramadan
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/discover/ramadan-when-does-it-start-everything-you-need-know>with
batons in a bid to force them out. There were also reports of stun grenades
being deployed.

In the silver-domed Qibli prayer hall, Israeli forces fired teargas at
worshippers and blocked them indoors for almost four hours. Dozens of
people were trapped inside and were not able to evacuate those who
sustained minor injuries.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said its medics were also
prevented from entering the mosque to provide first aid.

Israeli forces besieged al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday.

Palestinian worshippers inside the southern Qibli prayer hall and the
central Dome of the Rock were locked in by Israeli police who tried to
empty the mosque’s courtyards. pic.twitter.com/CxDtnCVmqZ
<https://t.co/CxDtnCVmqZ>
— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) April 17, 2022
<https://twitter.com/MiddleEastEye/status/1515633625181609990?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw>

People trapped inside the Qibli hall pleaded for help using loudspeakers,
urging Palestinians to come and protect the mosque. Israeli forces
reportedly tried to access the audio room afterwards to cut off the sound
system, which was later repaired by the mosque's volunteers.

Inside the Dome of the Rock hall at the centre of the mosque's
complex, female worshippers were also blocked in and not allowed to leave
in a similar manner.

"We wanted to go outside to protect al-Aqsa but the police closed the doors
on us," Sahar Natsha, a Palestinian women who was trapped inside the Dome
of the Rock for four hours, told Middle East Eye.

The mosque's guards also told worshippers not to open the doors and attempt
to leave, fearing that Israeli forces would shoot stun grenades which could
set fire to the carpets, Natsha said.

"We felt devastated and angry," she added. "But in the end we were also
glad that we were present. Had we left the prayer hall the police would
have forced us out of the mosque altogether. We decided to stay steadfast
to protect it."
Heavily protected settlers

All the while, hundreds of Israelis, protected by heavily armed forces,
continuously stormed the courtyard of the mosque in different groups for
the duration of the raid.

Far-right Israeli activists and settler groups had announced plans to storm
al-Aqsa this week in large numbers starting from Sunday to mark the Jewish
Passover
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/discover/passover-jewish-festival-explained>
holiday.

The Islamic Waqf, a joint Jordanian-Palestinian trust that administrates
the affairs of al-Aqsa, recorded more than 500 settlers who entered in this
period.

[image: .]

Far-right groups that organise these raids, in coordination with the
police, call on Israel to assert full Jewish sovereignty over the site and
allow Jewish worship and ritual sacrifice to take place.

Some also advocate for the destruction of the mosque, where they believe
two ancient Jewish temples once stood, to make way for a third temple.

In the Old City outside al-Aqsa, some Palestinian men threw stones at buses
carrying Israelis heading to the site, lightly injuring five. Israeli
forces arrested two people in connection with the incident.

Small Palestinian protests took place near Lion's Gate in the Old City as
the raid unfolded. Israeli forces injured at least 17 people, the PRCS said.

Before dawn, Israeli forces increased their presence outside
al-Aqsa's gates and imposed restrictions on Palestinians trying to
enter the mosque for prayer, eyewitnesses said.
'Violation of religious rights and sanctities'

With Passover lasting until the end of the week, settler raids accompanied
by police assaults are expected to continue, Sheikh Najeh Bakirat, the
deputy director of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, told MEE.

"All of these raids are attempting to change the reality on the ground and
create a scared Jewish presence in al-Aqsa," Bakirat said.

"The [Israeli] state will never give up these raids because from the
onset of its creation it has been working to erode this Islamic monument,
which symbolises the Arabic and Islamic roots of the Palestinian struggle."

[image: A Palestinian man prays in front of the Dome of Rock at the al-Aqsa
Mosque after a raid by Israeli forces and settlers on 17 April 17 2022.
(AFP)]
A Palestinian man prays in front of the Dome of Rock at the al-Aqsa Mosque
after a raid by Israeli forces and settlers on 17 April 2022 (AFP)

As part of an understanding between Jordan – the custodian of Islamic and
Christian sites in Jerusalem – and Israel, non-Muslims can visit
al-Aqsa but aren't allowed to pray there.

However, Israel has long ignored this delicate arrangement, often referred
to as the "status quo" and bypassed the Waqf. In recent years, Israelis
forces, settlers and high-profile politicians have almost on a daily basis
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-palestine-aqsa-mosque-raids-incursions-explained>
raided
the mosque without Palestinian permission.

The raids were often scaled-down and at times cancelled during Muslim
holidays, such as in the holy month of Ramadan.  However, this has changed
in recent years and settlers also began to perform prayer inside the mosque
during their incursions, which is a violation of the internationally agreed
status quo.

The number of settlers entering the mosque has grown steadily over the
years, causing alarm to Palestinians. In 2009, 5,658 settlers entered the
mosque in such tours. In 2019, just before the Covid pandemic, the number
rose to 30,000, according to some estimates.

Israel's control of occupied East Jerusalem, including the Old City,
violates several principles under international law, which stipulates that
an occupying power has no sovereignty
<https://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/misc/634kfc.htm> in the
territory it occupies and cannot make any permanent changes there.

'Al-Aqsa has been effectively split, both physically and at different times
allocated to settlers. Anyone that tells you otherwise is lying'

*- Umm Kamel el-Kurd, Palestinian activist*

Umm Kamel el-Kurd, a veteran Jerusalem activist who was in al-Aqsa during
the Sunday raid, said there has been a notable escalation in the manner and
size of Israeli raids.

"The violations and injustice has reached new levels. What is happening is
a catastrophe, it's unacceptable," el-Kurd, who is also known as Hajja
Fawzia, told MEE. "This is a clear violation of religious rights and
sanctities."

What happened today and will continue to happen in al-Aqsa, el-Kurd said,
is another proof of the Israeli government's plan to divide the mosque
between Muslims and Jews, similar to how the Ibrahimi Mosque
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-palestine-hebron-elevator-settlers-ibrahimi-mosque>
in Hebron was divided in the 1990s

"Al-Aqsa has been effectively split, both physically and at different times
allocated to settlers. Anyone that tells you otherwise is lying."
Calls for protests

Sunday's raid came as Palestinians marked the 16th day of Ramadan, the
holiest month of the year for Muslims.

It followed another violent attempt
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-palestine-jerusalem-aqsa-mosque-storm-attack-worshipper>
by Israeli forces to clear al-Aqsa of Muslim worshippers on Friday, in
which more than 150 were wounded and at least 450 arrested as police fired
rubber-coated steel bullets, teargas and stun grenades inside the courtyard
and prayer halls of the mosque.

Shiekh Ekrima Sabri, the imam of Al-Aqsa, told MEE the Friday raid was a
"premeditated and orchestrated attack" against Palestinians.

<https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/israel-palestine-jerusalem-aqsa-mosque-zionism-religious-war-fuel>

How Zionism is fuelling a religious war over al-Aqsa Mosque

"They want to deter Muslims from coming to the mosque and allow Jewish
intruders to storm Al-Aqsa," the 82-year-old said.

The raid was widely condemned by various Muslim-majority states, including
Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Palestinians factions also lambasted Israel for the assaults, with some
warning it of the consequences if such violations continued and urging
protesters to take to the streets in various Palestinian cities.

Last year, similar violent raids on al-Aqsa, which coincided with protests
against plans to expel Palestinians from Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah
neighbourhood, sparked widespread demonstrations in the West Bank and
within Palestinian cities in Israel and led to an 11-day war between Israel
and armed groups in the Gaza Strip.

Israel's bombardment killed 256 Palestinians, including 66 children. In
Israel, 13 people were killed by rockets fired from Gaza.

*Additional reporting by Latifeh Abdellatif.*

*This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/fr/actu-et-enquetes/jerusalem-alaqsa-palestine-occupation-attaque-ramadan-paque-juive>.*
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