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Israeli police storm al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan prayers, provoking rocket fire from Gaza News

(CNN) Israeli Police stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, one of Islam’s holiest sites, during Ramadan prayers Wednesday morning, arresting hundreds of Palestinians and prompting retaliatory rocket fire by militants. in Gaza.

Images shared on social media showed Israeli agents beating screaming people with batons inside the darkened building. Eyewitnesses told CNN that police broke doors and windows to enter the mosque and deployed stun grenades and rubber bullets once inside. Video shared by Israeli police shows forces holding riot shields as fireworks were thrown at them, bouncing off walls.

Israeli police said in a statement that their forces entered al-Aqsa after “hundreds of rioters and mosque desecrators had barricaded themselves” inside.

“When the police entered, stones were thrown at them and a large group of rioters shot fireworks from inside the mosque,” the statement said.

The Palestinian Red Crescent in Jerusalem said at least 12 people were injured during clashes in and around the mosque, and at least three of the injured were taken to hospital, some with rubber bullet wounds.

The Red Crescent added that at one point their ambulances were attacked by police and they were prevented from reaching the injured.

The incident drew condemnation from the entire Arab and Muslim world. The Jordanian Foreign Ministry condemned the actions of the Israeli police “in the strongest terms” and called on Israel to immediately withdraw its forces from the mosque. Jordan has also called for an extraordinary meeting of the Arab League to discuss the development.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry condemned the police “storming” of the mosque, saying it had caused “numerous injuries among worshipers and devotees” and “violated all international laws and customs.”

Police said they arrested and took away more than 350 people at the mosque, and that an Israeli police officer was injured in the leg by stones.

Images shared on social media showed dozens of detainees lying face down on the floor of the mosque with their legs and arms tied behind their backs, and others with their hands tied as they were led into a vehicle.

Al-Aqsa has seen hundreds of thousands of worshipers offer prayers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan this year. The Jews are ready to celebrate Passover on Wednesday night.

‘A great crime against the faithful’

In the past two weeks, Jewish extremist groups have called for slaughtering goats at the mosque compound as part of an ancient Passover holiday ritual no longer practiced by most Jews. A larger number of Muslim worshipers stayed at the mosque after calls came in to prevent such attempts.

Last week, Israeli police shot and killed a Palestinian at the entrance to the compound. Palestinian and Israeli sources questioned the circumstances that led to the killing of 26-year-old Muhammad Al-Osaibi.

The mosque complex, often a flashpoint, is home to one of the most revered sites in Islam, but also the holiest site in Judaism, known as the Temple Mount.

The compound reopened for prayers soon after.

In a statement on Wednesday, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh condemned the actions of the Israeli police, saying: “What is happening in Jerusalem is a great crime against the faithful.”

“Israel does not want to learn from history that al-Aqsa is for the Palestinians and for all Arabs and Muslims, and that storming it sparked a revolution against the occupation,” Shtayyeh added.

Aviv Bushinsky, a former media adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told CNN that situations affecting Israel’s security could unite a divided nation, but said that was probably not the motivation behind the mosque takeover. of al-Aqsa by Israel.

Bushinsky added that he thought Netanyahu was interested in easing tensions.

Bushinsky said that the average Israeli, however, would not support any extreme Israeli measures against the Palestinians in Jerusalem, as that would be “too risky.”

“I think Netanyahu and even Ben Gvir have an interest in trying to ease the tension at the Al Aqsa Mosque,” ​​he said. “Because when there is a break there, it affects the entire Arab world and we feel it.”

Gaza rockets

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Wednesday that nine rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel after the incident in Jerusalem.

“Following the earlier report about the sirens sounding in Sderot, five rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory,” the IDF said. “Four of them were intercepted by the air defense matrix.”

The IDF also said four additional rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel, but they landed in open space.

“After additional sirens sounded around the Gaza Strip, four rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip landing in open areas. No interceptors were launched in accordance with the protocol,” the IDF added.

Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, said in a statement that “the crimes of the ongoing Israeli occupation of al-Aqsa Mosque are unprecedented violations that will not go away.”

Later on Wednesday, the Israeli army said its warplanes had struck Hamas-owned weapons manufacturing and storage sites in the Gaza Strip.

“This attack was carried out in response to rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory earlier,” it said in a statement.

Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Wednesday that “we will hit anyone who tries to harm us and exact a heavy price that will make them regret threatening Israeli citizens or IDF troops.”

Last year was the deadliest. for both Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Israelis in nearly two decades, CNN’s analysis of official statistics from both sides showed.

And this year has also gotten off to a violent start. At least 90 Palestinians have been killed, according to statistics from the Palestinian Ministry of Health. In addition to the suspected militants who were attacked by Israeli forces, the dead include Palestinians who killed, injured or attempted to kill Israeli civilians, people who clashed with Israeli security and bystanders, CNN records show.

In the same period, at least 15 Israelis have been killed in attacks by Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank, CNN records show: 14 civilians and a police officer who was hit by friendly fire after being stabbed by a Palestinian teenager while inspecting a bus. passengers



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