Turkey condemns 'unacceptable' clashes at Jerusalem mosque

AFP , Ahram Online , Wednesday 5 Apr 2023

Turkey on Wednesday denounced clashes that erupted inside Israel's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying Israel had crossed a "red line".

 Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks on Wednesday 5 April, 2023, during a dinner for those breaking daytime fasting, a practice for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Photo courtesy of Erdogan official Twitter account (@RTErdogan)

"Turkey cannot stay silent in the face of these attacks. Trampling on the Al-Aqsa mosque is our red line," Erdogan said during a dinner for those breaking daytime fasting, a practice for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"Palestinians are not alone," he added.

Israeli police clashed with Palestinians inside Jerusalem's holy site Wednesday, sparking an exchange of rockets and air strikes, in flaring violence as the Jewish Passover overlaps with Ramadan.

Erdogan's comments followed earlier criticism made by his Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

"We condemn these attacks," Cavusoglu said on the margins of a NATO gathering in Brussels.

"Normalisation with Israel has begun, but our commitment cannot be at the expense of the Palestinian cause and our principles," he added, noting that "these attacks have exceeded the limit".

Armed police in riot gear stormed the mosque's prayer hall before dawn, with the goal of dislodging the Palestinians who had barricaded themselves inside following evening prayers.

Witnesses and medics said the Israeli police used excessive force to remove the worshippers who had closed the gates to the Qibli building in the compound to prevent the police from entering it, according to Palestinian news agency WAFA.

The police then fired tear gas into the building after breaking windows, causing serious cases of suffocation.

Medics said police prevented them from entering the compound to help the worshippers, many of whom were detained, beaten or forced to leave.

 Later, dozens of Israeli settlers stormed the compound after police had forcefully removed most of the Palestinian worshippers.

The Al-Aqsa mosque compound is a site sacred to both Islam in the Old City of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem that has long been a lightning rod in Israeli-Palestinian relations.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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