Global criticism mount after Israeli police storm Al-Aqsa mosque

Ahram Online , Thursday 6 Apr 2023

Global condemnation and concern have mounted following the brutal entry of Israeli riot police into the prayer hall of Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque to remove worshippers who were staying for overnight prayer, according to Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Al-Aqsa mosque
Israeli security forces remove Palestinian Muslim worshippers sitting on the grounds of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, early on April 5, 2023. AFP


Worshippers who were staying for Itikaf had later barricaded the gates to the Qibli mosque's building in the compound to prevent the Israeli police from entering.

Videos went viral on social media showing Israeli police breaking into the mosque, beating the worshippers with clubs and firing teargas canisters and sound grenades inside the mosque.

They also fired rubber bullets at Palestinian worshippers.

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

Medical crews from the Palestinian Red Crescent said that at least 50 people were injured.

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

Israeli police detained 450 Palestinians from the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.

Witnesses said they used excessive force, including tear gas. 

Most of the detained Palestinians were released from detention by the early afternoon, according to lawyer Khaled Zabarqa who represents several of them. 

Zabarqa said, however, that some 50 Palestinians – many of whom are from the occupied West Bank –  were still detained and would have their cases heard at the Ofer military court on Friday. 

People who were detained at the compound and later released said police used batons, chairs, rifles and whatever else they could find to strike Palestinians, including women and children.

The Palestinians responded by hurling stones and setting off firecrackers that they'd brought to evening prayers for fear of possible clashes.

Israel's far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir voiced "complete backing" for police and their "swift and determined" actions.

A spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said Israel was "creating an atmosphere of escalation, instability and tension".

Palestinian Reactions

The State of Palestine issued a statement condemning in the strongest terms the brutal attacks of Israeli occupation soldiers against Palestinian worshippers.

"The international community is obligated to hold Israel and its officials accountable for their crimes. SOP requests UNSC to urgently devise effective measures to ensure the protection of worshippers and the full respect for the historic and legal status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque," according to the statement.  

Palestinian civil affairs minister Hussein al-Sheikh condemned the Israeli police action inside Al-Aqsa, saying "the level of brutality requires urgent Palestinian, Arab and international action".

A senior Palestinian figure, Hanan Ashrawi, tweeted that "This is the epitome of provocation & deliberate incitement. Now that the world has seen what freedom of worship & respect for holy sites in Israeli occupied Jerusalem are, tell me more how Israel is a “democracy” & not a racist, apartheid violent state."

Palestinian ambassador to the UK Husam Zomlot said “The international community's unwillingness to hold Israel accountable has led us directly to where we are today: Jewish supremacists, no political process, no hope and more loss of human lives” Zomlot tweeted.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN ambassador, expressed “outrage and condemnation” at the attack, telling reporters at UN headquarters: “It is the right of the Palestinian Muslim worshippers to exercise their religious duties and prayers in this holy month of Ramadan, and in any other time in this holy Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said Thursday Palestinians "will not sit with their arms crossed" in the face of Israeli "aggression" against the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

He was speaking in Beirut after Israel blamed Palestinian militants for firing a barrage of rockets from Lebanon at northern Israel.

"Our Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance groups will not sit idly by" in the face of Israel's "savage aggression" against Al-Aqsa, Haniyeh said in a statement.

Arab And Global Condemnation 

Jordan, which administers the mosque, condemned its "storming", and called on Israeli forces to leave the compound immediately.

Egypt has condemned the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque by the Israeli police and attacking worshipers, including women, as a "blatant" assault and violation of all international laws and norms.

The statement was released by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which called on Israeli authorities to stop these attacks immediately.

The Egyptian foreign ministry called for the international community to assume its responsibility and put an end to these attacks to spare the region more factors of instability and tension.

A UAE foreign ministry statement rejected all practices that "threaten to further exacerbate escalation". It also criticised worshippers who "barricade themselves".

Also, Morocco's foreign ministry stressed the need "to avoid measures and violations likely to damage chances of peace in the region".

The Gulf emirate of Qatar, which does not recognise Israel, warned that Israeli practices "will have serious repercussions on security and stability in the region, and will undermine efforts to revive the stalled peace process, if the international community does not hasten to take action".

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel had crossed a "red line".

"Turkey cannot stay silent in the face of these attacks. Trampling on the Al-Aqsa mosque is our red line," Erdogan said.

"Palestinians are not alone," he added.

UN Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland said he was “appalled by the images of violence” at Al-Aqsa, condemning the beating and mass arrests of Palestinians.

Germany urged both sides to avoid further escalation. "Everyone who has an influence on the situation has the responsibility to not pour more oil on the fire and to do everything possible to calm the situation," a foreign ministry spokesman said.

The spokesman said, "There must be no further escalation and believers should celebrate the holidays in peace”. 

The White House said Wednesday it was "extremely concerned" after the Israeli attack and urged restraint by both Israelis and Palestinians.

"We remain extremely concerned by the continuing violence and we urge all sides to avoid further escalation," White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

Imran Khan, former Prime Minister of Islamic Republic of Pakistan posted a tweet saying, "Strongly condemn this attack on worshippers in Al-Aqsa mosque once again by Israeli forces especially during Holy month of Ramazan. It is OIC's responsibility to inform UNSC & int community that such barbaric acts cause immense hurt to Muslims across the world."

Lord (Tariq)Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State Foreign Commonwealth & Development Affairs, said in a tweet “Shocked to awake to the disturbing scenes of Israeli Security forces’ raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem injuring many worshippers during Ramadan. Violence only fuels more violence. The sanctity & status of the Holy sites must be respected & protected.

Shehbaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan, said “I strongly condemn Israeli police attack on Palestinian worshippers in Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem. Brutal attack is violative of sanctity of holy month of Ramazan. Impunity granted to Israel has emboldened Tel Aviv to violate basic human rights with abandon.” 


The Arab League denounced "the attack on the faithful" and called an emergency meeting.

Egypt's Al-Azhar condemned the raid as "a repeat terrorist act," decrying the silence of the world community which "likes to boast about international conventions that protect places of worship."

"Al-Azhar expresses its deep ire with the repetition of these barbaric crimes by this international terrorist entity, as it continues its series of criminal desecrations of Islamic sanctities and its attempts to change the historic identity of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa," read a statement by the world's leading Sunni Islamic institution.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was "shocked and appalled" by images he saw of Israeli security forces beating people at the mosque, particularly because it came at a time holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims that should be a period of peace, his spokesman said.

The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) strongly condemned the Israeli occupation forces’ blatant storming of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, its brutal assault on worshippers in its courtyards, and the arrest of several of them.

It reaffirmed that the entire blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and its compound is a place of worship exclusively for Muslims.



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