Israeli Forces launch brutal assault on Al Aqsa worshippers
On Tuesday 4th April, in an unprecedented act of violence inside the Al Aqsa compound as part of the growing row over access rights to Al Aqsa, Israeli armed soldiers brutalised Palestinian worshippers.
While at prayer, dozens of men, women (including the elderly), and children were besieged by armed soldiers, battened, bound and arrested. One witness stated that while the soldiers seemed to allow some women to exit unharmed, all of the men were harshly beaten. The storming of the Qibli Prayer Hall in the Mosque, saw the use of stun grenades and tear gas and officials reported that as many as 350 people were detained. The Palestinian Commission of Detainees put the number of men arrested much higher at between 400-500. Raw footage from an eyewitness showing the brutality of the assault has been circulating on social media:
The Times of Israel reported that the raid by Israeli forces was intended to restore order in response to:
“..dozens of masked youths [who] barricaded themselves inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque a top the Temple Mount with fireworks, clubs and rocks following evening prayers, while locking the doors and placing barricades at the entrances.’
The paper said that the Israeli forces had responded to reports that dozens of masked Palestinians had locked themselves in the mosque overnight in order to prevent an expected incursion on Wednesday by Israeli settler nationalists on the eve of the Jewish Passover. The report acknowledged that there had been public calls by the more extreme elements among the Jewish community to revive the act of slaughtering a lamb or goat within the Al Aqsa (Temple Mount) compound, against a law prohibiting such slaughter on the site.
The Israeli forces refused to accept that the practice of Itikaf is a recognised and common practice, which sees worshipers stay inside the mosque overnight in prayer, while reciting the Quran.
The assault by armed Israeli forces provoked a strong response from resistance fighters in the West Bank, who called for the mobilisation of all Palestinians. Hamas in Gaza responded by firing rockets at Israeli border towns and then issued a statement calling the assault on worshippers inside the mosque an “unprecedented crime”. This was followed by an effective call to arms, as Palestinians in the West Bank were asked “to go en masse to the Al-Aqsa mosque to defend it.”
The leader of Islamic Jihad, Ziyad al-Nakhala, referred to the incursion as a “serious threat” and warned Palestinians to be ready “for the inevitable confrontation in the coming days.”
Local mosques across the length of Jerusalem joined the call through their loudspeakers for Palestinians to rally in support of those arrested