Israel Intensifies Crackdown on al-Aqsa: Dozens Injured as Police Raids Mosque

JERUSALEM, September 28, 2015 (WAFA) – At least 12 Palestinians Monday were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets fired by Israeli police and special police forces, as they stormed the compound of al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem to make way for settlers entry into the compound, according to witnesses and local sources.

Witnesses told WAFA that about 150 Israeli police personnel forced their way into the compound in the morning and used excessive force against worshipers to force them to leave the compound to make way for settlers entry to mark the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, also known as  the Feast of Tabernacles.

Police used stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets against worshipers at the site as well as assaulted them with clubs, leaving at least 12 Palestinians injured with rubber coated bullets, including one youth who was hit in the eye, medical sources informed WAFA.

Police further attacked the southern building located within the compound, known as al-Qibli mosque, after surrounding it.

Police fired stun grenades, tear gas canisters, and rubber-coated bullets toward the building and worshipers who barricaded themselves inside, causing fire to erupt at the entrance of the building. The civil defense teams present at the compound were able to control and extinguish the fire.

An Islamic Waqf personnel said Israeli police used – for the first time –  special equipments to break down the windows of the southern building during their crackdown. Several worshipers were injured and treated at the mosque’s clinic.

Meanwhile, police assaulted a number of worshipers who were denied entry to the compound while they were awaiting entry at el-Selsila gate which leads to the compound, and forced them to leave.  Police also assaulted medical teams as well as journalists who were covering events there, WAFA correspondent said.

Earlier, Jewish organizations called upon their Jewish supporters to organize visits to the mosque, the holiest place in Islam, throughout the days of the Jewish holidays. In response, hundreds of Palestinian worshipers gathered and stayed inside the mosque since last night, aiming to fend off the entrance of Jewish settlers fanatics to the site.

Commenting on Israel’s attack on the compound, ministers of foreign affairs of the Arab countries, on the sideline of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC’s) meeting in New York, said the Israeli violations in Jerusalem target to change the status quo in the city, which undermine any chance for peace.

The Arab foreign ministers called upon the UNSC to uphold its responsibility with regards to al-Aqsa Mosque, in light of the persisting Israeli offensive against it.

Meanwhile, The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the Israeli offensive on al-Aqsa Mosque, and said the Israeli measures in Jerusalem have transformed the city into a “big prison”, as part of its attempts to divide al-Aqsa mosque spatially and temporally between Muslims and Jews.

To be noted, today’s attack on the compound coincides with the 15th anniversary of al-Aqsa Intifada (second uprising) which erupted in 2000 when former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon broke into Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyards guarded by hundreds of policemen and soldiers.

During the past two weeks, the site has been a scene of renewing clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian worshipers, prompted by the entry of Jewish fanatics who organize provocative visits to the site to mark Jewish holidays.

The site has witnessed recurrent clashes in recent months between Palestinians and Israeli police, most frequently due to provocative visits by Jewish extremists who believe the mosque should be destroyed and replaced with a Jewish temple.

Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest place for Muslims, has since 1967 been the center of the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. While it is widely known as Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jews refer to the site as the “Temple Mount” and believe it was the site of two Jewish temples destroyed in ancient times.