Israeli Police Wednesday raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and arrested 350 people inside. Police said in a statement that they forced entry into the compound in a bid to counter “masked agitators.” However, worshippers inside the mosque claimed that they were violently attacked and that police prevented medics from reaching Al-Aqsa amidst the clash. Two videos released on social media purportedly show Israeli police clashing with and beating worshippers during the raid.
According to witnesses, the police did not only attack dozens of worshipers but they also injured seven people. “I was sitting on a chair reciting (Qur’an),” an elderly woman told Reuters. “They hurled stun grenades, one of them hit my chest.” The Palestinian Red Cresent reported that 50 worshippers were injured and that police prevented them from reaching the mosque.
This incident sparked protests across the occupied West Bank. Additionally, the Israeli military claimed nine rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel after sirens blared in southern towns. Taking into account the tension levels in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, there are great fears of further violence. The convergence of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish celebration of Passover have also contributed to the tension. In recent years, friction at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the Temple Mount has sparked violence.
Jordan and Saudi Arabia condemned the raid, which they described as a crime. In particular, Jordan’s Ministry of Foreign and External Affairs called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League to address the violence.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, previously said in 2020 “We warn the occupation against crossing red lines at holy sites, which will lead to a big explosion.”