Every year, or I should say every Ramadan, Israel attacks Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, a holy site to millions of Muslims worldwide, to allow far right-wing settlers to harass worshipers and desecrate the mosque (by physical destruction), which they want to destroy. This year’s provocations came within 48 hours of each other, the first resulting in a 20-year high of almost 500 arrests of Palestinian worshipers, and the second came as an invasion of 545 right-wing settlers in cooperation with Israeli police and against written international agreements. Reports below:
Gunning for Al-Aqsa: Invasion to Intimidate and Control
The report below shows us what happened, pointedly in the holy month of Ramadan:
Israeli 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. (This is the second time in 48 hours to do this.)
At around 7am local time, hundreds of special forces entered the mosque’s courtyard and began striking Palestinians observing Ramadan 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.
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.
500 Israeli Settlers Stormed the Mosque’s Courtyard Unprovoked, Heavily Guarded by Israeli Police
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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 in the territory it occupies and cannot make any permanent changes there.
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 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.”
It followed another violent attempt 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.
Israel’s Goal to Demoralize and Exterminate Palestinians
This article below explains why Israel does this and how far they may go.
Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, said the raids by Israeli forces into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound – also known as the Noble Sanctuary – is due to Israel’s “colonial machinations”.
“It clearly has a goal in mind and that is denying the Palestinians any sense of sovereignty over their most sacred site, which is the Noble Sanctuary,” he said, speaking from London.
In the face of total control of Palestinian life by the Israeli occupation, the Palestinians regard the compound as their last stand, Bishara continued.
“Everything has been taken away from them – the land, the olive groves, their homes, their dignity,” he said.
“Israel took control over everything that is Palestine, from the river to the sea with the exception of the Noble Sanctuary. Palestinians continue to think that at least they can have that symbol of Palestinian sovereignty in the Old City of Jerusalem.”
More than 300 Palestinians were detained on Friday in Al-Aqsa in what rights watchdogs say was the largest en masse arrest over the course of one hour and in one location in more than 20 years.https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/4/17/israel-police-enter-al-aqsa-mosque-arrest-two
Democracy Now! reports:
“Western media has been describing the attacks as “clashes” and using other obfuscatory language “as if there is no imbalance of power here, as if there is no nuclear state using its rubber-coated bullets and tear gas against worshipers at a mosque,” says Palestinian writer Mohammed El-Kurd.
Zionist Groups Aided by Police Aim to Destroy Al-Aqsa
This is a strategy that’s been going on for years. This article describes in depth how and why Israel targets this mosque in particular.
If this isn’t a violation of freedom of religion, then nothing is. Israel’s desire to control and eliminate Palestinians blinded it to all morals, treaties, human rights, religions, ethical standards, normal behavior, or principles. They attack women and children with impunity. Nothing is sacred to Zionists but zionism, which is political Judaism, like they say ”political Islam.” Zionism has proven in action to be a form of racist fascism, a mirror image of Nazism but in a PR-modified form. Israeli soldiers dress up and act like the SS, with the ”other semites,” Palestinians, as their targets for dehumanization. Zionism demoralizes Jews and harms them by twisting their best morals and impulses to be God-fearing people into racist violent hate that knows no bounds in violating the rights of others who disagree, including Jews. This is not the usual subject of this blog, but it is a subject they hoped to bury in the news of Ukraine, a subject the West minimizes as ”local clashes,” not an epic violation of the sanctity of places of worship.