Israeli forces storm Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque

Ahram Online , Sunday 26 Jul 2015

Dozens of worshipers were reportedly attacked by rubber-coated bullets and suffered excessive tear gas inhalation

Israeli border police
Israeli border police run during clashes in the Old City of Jerusalem (File Photo: AP)

Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on Sunday morning, firing sound bombs and rubber bullets at Muslim worshipers.

Israeli occupation forces stormed the mosque through the Mughrabi, Chain and Hutta gates, and clashed with worshipers, Ma'an News Agency reported.

Dozens of worshipers were reportedly attacked by rubber-coated bullets and suffered excessive tear gas inhalation, while Israeli police officers assaulted the compound's Palestinian security guards and prevented them from moving, witnesses told the Palestinian independent news agency.

Right-wing Jews then began to make their way into the compound in groups via the Mughrabi gate escorted by Israeli police.

Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories, told Reuters by phone from inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque that "the occupation forces stormed the mosque and turned it into a military barracks attacking the worshipers and mosque itself."

He added that the occupation forces fired gas and sound bombs inside the mosque warning that "the situation in Al-Aqsa Mosque is very tense after the storming of the Jews settlers to the mosque's yards under the protection of the Israeli police."

However, Israeli police claimed they entered the holy Jerusalem site to prevent Arab youths from attacking visiting Jews marking a biblical holiday.

"They threw fireworks directly at police," Israeli police said. "In light of the severe confrontation and the escalating actions of the rioters and with the aim of preventing further injury to police...forces entered a number of metres (yards) inside and closed the doors to the mosque with the rioters inside, restoring order," AFP reported.

Sunday was marked as Tisha B'Av, an annual Jewish fast day that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Jewish Temples.

Settlers are reported to storm Al-Aqsa mosque and clash with Palestinians on a regular basis.

Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to Al-Aqsa Mosque, a move that stirs anger among Muslim worshipers.

Al-Aqsa mosque was closed to settlers for 13 days, during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan and the three days of Muslim's Eid Al-Fitr.

The mosque is the third holiest site in Islam. Israel's recurrent violations against it have historically been a major source of tension and anger among Palestinians.

Israelis refer to the area that encompasses Al-Aqsa mosque as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 war. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a declaration not recognised by the international community.


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