JERUSALEM, Thursday, May 05, 2022 (WAFA) – Israeli police today cracked down on Palestinians inside Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as settler intrusions resumed, according to WAFA correspondent.
She said that heavily-armed police violently dispersed Palestinian worshippers protesting renewed settler intrusions into the flashpoint site, opening tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets towards them and resulting in dozens of injuries, mostly from tear gas.
The violent confrontations erupted as police allowed dozens of settlers to barge their way into the courtyards of the site from the direction of the Moroccan Gate, known in Arabic as Bab al-Maghariba, in celebration of what they call Israel’s “Independence Day”, which saw the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 to one million indigenous Palestinians 74 years ago and turning them into refugees to establish a Jewish-majority state in Palestine.
The settlers waved the Israeli flag at Alqatanin Gate, located on the western side of the site, and sang Israel’s national anthem.
Police scuffled with Palestinians barricading themselves within the site and attempted to force them, including journalists, out of the courtyards to make room for the intruders.
They also sealed off the Qibli prayer area within the mosque compound, denying worshippers access to it and caused damage to 800-year-old Salah Al-Din Minbar (pulpit), located inside the prayer area.
Palestinians mobilized to defend the site in anticipation of the renewed settler intrusions following calls by Israeli Prime Minister Baftali Bennett for settlers to tour the site on Israel’s “Independence Day”.
Police said Al-Aqsa would be open to the settlers from 7:00 to 11:00 in the morning and from 1:30 to 2:30 in the afternoon.
On Tuesday, police banned the call to prayer over loudspeakers during Isha (evening prayer) at the compound as groups of settlers chanted Israel’s national anthem and raise flags.
The police violent crackdown on Palestinians at the site is reminiscent to the 2021 Ramadan tensions and May violence over Israeli settler takeover of Palestinian property in Sheikh Jarrah and encroachments upon the mosque compound, culminating in Israeli onslaught on Gaza and large-scale protests among Palestinian citizens of Israel.
During the 2021 Ramadan month, Jerusalem saw protests and night-time confrontations between Israeli police and Palestinian worshippers, with tensions mounting over the police decision to ban people from sitting on the stairs outside Bab al-Amoud under the guise of implementing the coronavirus restrictions, and its decision to disconnect the power supply to the call to prayer at the mosque compound.
The tensions further simmered following the forced expulsions of Palestinian families from their houses in Sheikh Jarrah.
For many Palestinians in Jerusalem and across the occupied Palestinian territory, Ramadan is directly connected to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque and is considered the third holiest site in Islam.
Al-Aqsa is located in East Jerusalem, a part of the internationally recognized Palestinian territories that have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
Palestinians in the coming weeks will commemorate the Nakba, or “the Catastrophe”, when the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians by Zionist militias took place to create the state of Israel in 1948.