Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem, clashing with scores of Palestinian youngsters inside, eliciting outrage from Arab nations and igniting a fresh round of rocket fire and airstrikes in the neighbourhood.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent in Jerusalem, at least 12 people were hurt during conflicts in the Al-Aqsa compound on Wednesday, with at least three people receiving medical treatment after being hit with rubber-coated bullets.
Video footage on social media showed Israeli forces assaulting Palestinian teens with clubs outside the al-Aqsa Mosque’s gate.
Militants in Gaza, a coastal Palestinian enclave, responded to the bloodshed by firing 16 rockets towards southern Israel, prompting numerous rounds of Israeli airstrikes.
Israeli police stated in a statement that they stormed the property after at least 350 Palestinians barricaded themselves inside the mosque with pyrotechnics, sticks, and rocks.
“When the police entered, stones were thrown at them, and fireworks were fired from inside the mosque by a large group of agitators,” said the statement. The police also released video footage showing forces inside the compound and fireworks exploding.
After Hamas, an Islamist Palestinian movement, called for defence against Jewish ultranationalists who planned to perform an ancient biblical ritual involving the slaughter of a goat during the Jewish holiday of Passover, which began on Wednesday evening, the Palestinians barricaded themselves inside the mosque.
The compound of the Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest location for Muslims and the most holy place for Jews. The location lies in East Jerusalem’s Old City, which Israel occupied together with the remainder of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East conflict.
“We hold the (Israeli) occupation government fully responsible for any deterioration,” Palestinian presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in a statement. “It must act responsibly and stop this absurdity, which will have dangerous consequences for everyone.”
The event was also widely condemned in Arab nations.
Saudi Arabia stated that “the kingdom is closely monitoring the breach by Israeli soldiers into the al-Aqsa mosque and the harm done to worshippers.”
Jordan, the custodian of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, denounced the entry of Israeli police into the holy site and “the attack on pilgrims there” in a statement published by the Foreign Ministry.
It requested an Arab League emergency meeting at the level of permanent representatives.
In a statement, Egypt said it held Israel responsible for the escalation, denounced “the aggressiveness towards the worshippers,” and asked that Israel “immediately halt these crimes, which injure the people in the mosque.”
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani harshly criticised the “brutal” attack by Israeli police on Wednesday, saying it demonstrated Israel’s “criminal and anti-human rights” mentality to the world.