Israeli forces on Friday, 22 April, undertook a fresh raid in occupied East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque, injuring at least 30 Palestinians. This came after some Palestinian youths allegedly threw rocks at a gate where the security forces were stationed.
At least three journalists are among the injured, and one Israeli police officer was also injured in the stone pelting. The Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service said that 14 Palestinians were in the hospital, two of who had suffered serious injuries, reported Reuters.
The Israeli police, dressed in full riot gear, entered the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site for Muslims, and used rubber bullets and stun grenades on the crowd, Al Jazeera reported.
A similar raid was launched by the Israeli forces on 15 April in the mosque, during which 150 Palestinians were injured.
A minor fire also reportedly broke out at the compound. While Palestinians alleged that the Israeli forces set ablaze a tree, the police said that the fire took place because of fireworks thrown by Palestinians.
The Israeli police put the blame on Palestinians for throwing rocks, and claimed that the former waited till prayers concluded early in the morning before raiding the mosque.
Reuters reported, quoting witnesses that police made their way into the compound and fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at the crowd. They also reportedly fired rubber bullets at some journalists present at the scene.
Repeated Attacks on Compound
The site, significant for both Muslims and Jewish people, has seen a recent outbreak of violence. Jews know it as the Temple Mount, while Muslims call it the Noble Sanctuary, reported Reuters.
The compound has been attacked repeatedly of late amid increased tensions between Israel and Palestine – the highest since an 11-day war took place between the two sides in May last year.
Tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers were expected to attend prayers at the mosque later on Friday. Visits by Jewish groups were suspended from Friday onwards, marking the last 10 days of the holy month of Ramadan.
This year, the holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish Passover fell on the same days along with Christian holidays, leading to thousands who observe the three religions visiting the city at the same time.
Meanwhile, president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas told the United States (US) state department in a meting on Thursday that Israel had single-handedly escalated the conflict in the occupied territories, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
(With inputs from Al Jazeera and Reuters.)
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