Israeli Army Quells Rally to Support Al-Aqsa Mosque

RAMALLAH, October 26, 2015 (WAFA) – A Palestinian Monday was shot with live ammunition, while many others suffocated with tear gas used against them by Israeli soldiers, as the latter quelled a peaceful demonstration at the northern entrance of al-Bireh, near Ramallah, according to local sources.

Forces reportedly fired tear gas canisters and concussion grenades toward Palestinians rallying to protest Israeli policies regarding al-Aqsa Mosque, which promise to grant settlers a right to enter and pray at the site.

As the protesters reached Beit El Israeli military checkpoint, north of Ramallah, clashes erupted with Israeli soldiers. A Palestinian, whose identity and medical status remain unknown until the moment, was shot and injured with a live bullet, according to the ministry of health.

Palestinians have been protesting against Israel’s intensified use of violence against them and encroachment of their holy sites, including its unilateral enforcement of a temporal division on the compound between Muslims and Jews. This provoked strong feelings of anger among Palestinian Muslims, leading to violent unrest across the West Bank, including Jerusalem.

Despite various international calls – including by Jordan, which is responsible for Jerusalem’s holy sites in line with a 1994 peace treaty with Israel – urging Israel to maintain the status quo at the mosque, as it was before the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, settlers have continued their daily provocative tours into the compound.

These tours also contradict previous remarks made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where he vowed that “his government will not change the status quo in East Jerusalem’s flashpoint al-Aqsa Mosque compound”.

Israel have been restricting Palestinians access into the compound, banning them from entering the Mosque during specific hours, to make way for settlers.

Clashes have been witnessed across the West Bank, including Jerusalem, as well as in Arab communities inside the 1948 occupied land, leaving at least 59 Palestinians killed, and thousands others injured, according to the Palestinian ministry of health.

Director-General of al-Aqsa Affairs, Azzam al-Khatib, following President Mahmoud Abbas’ Saturday meeting with US Secretary of State, John Kerry, in Amman, said, “the status quo in al-Aqsa Mosque means that the Israeli occupation is committed not to block access and the entry of any Muslim to al-Aqsa Mosque at any time, and without specifying age or categories,” reported The Palestinian Information Center.

Following Kerry’s proposal to install around-the-clock video surveillance cameras at the compound, a step which was praised by Netanyahu, Director-General of al-Aqsa Affairs, demanded that the cameras be connected to the Internet so that the world can see the truth about what is happening in the al-Aqsa Mosque, a demand which was backed by both Jordan and US Kerry.

US Kerry described the installation of cameras as ‘an excellent suggestion”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly said, Israel “has an interest in cameras being deployed everywhere on the Temple Mount” to reject claims that it is changing the status quo.

Netanyahu reportedly praised the proposal saying that it ‘would enable Israel to refute allegations that it is making changes at the site.’

However, the Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad al-Malki, told the Voice of Palestine that, ‘the plan was a trap, because Israel would use video footage to arrest Muslim worshippers it claims are inciting against it.’ Other Palestinian key figures also expressed their skepticism over such step.

Meanwhile, Yinon Magal, an Israeli MP from the Jewish Home party, said installing cameras would not stop Jews from being able to pray at the site. “I appreciate the efforts of the prime minister to calm the situation but at the end of the day nothing will prevent Jews praying on the Temple Mount, not even the cameras,” reported media outlets.