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Israeli forces storm Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa, injuring dozens

Israeli police interferes a Palestinian woman as a group of Palestinian protesting entry of Israel settlers into al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, near al Silsila gate, Jerusalem, September 13, 2015.

 

Dozens of Palestinians were injured on Sunday when Israeli security forces stormed occupied East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and attacked Muslim worshippers, according to witnesses.

Witnesses told Anadolu Agency that Israeli forces had used tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse Muslim worshippers at the Al-Aqsa compound.

“At least 60 Special Forces troops and police stormed the mosque compound at dawn and sealed the Al-Qibali Mosque with iron chains,” one eyewitness said.

Witnesses at the scene said Israeli security forces had fired teargas and stun grenades inside the mosque itself.

Omar al-Qiswani, the mosque’s Palestinian director, told Anadolu Agency that he personally had been assaulted – along with several Muslim worshippers – while trying to prevent Israeli troops from entering the mosque.

“Israeli forces went up to the roof of the Al-Qibali Mosque, smashing windows and spraying pepper gas inside the building,” he said.

Earlier Sunday, scores of extremist Jewish settlers – led by Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and backed by dozens of Israeli police and soldiers – also forced their way into the mosque compound.

“At least 40 Jewish settlers, accompanied by about 20 Israeli police and Special Forces troops, stormed the compound via the Al-Magharbeh Gate,” Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, director-general of Al-Aqsa affairs, told Anadolu Agency.

Israeli forces, he said, had used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse Muslim worshippers who had gathered to protest the settlers’ incursion.

“Four Palestinians were hurt by rubber bullets while at least 25 others suffered temporary asphyxia due to teargas inhalation,” al-Khatib said.

Israeli forces also sealed the gates of the mosque and prevented women and men under 50 from entering it.

For Muslims, the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.

In September 2000, a visit to Al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the “Second Intifada,” a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.

A group of Palestinian protest entry of Israel settlers into al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, near al Silsila gate, Jerusalem, September 13, 2015. Images by Anadolu.

 

Turkey’s top cleric condemns Israeli Al-Aqsa breaches

‘Occupiers must show restraint before we reach point of no return’
President of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, Mehmet Gormez, has strongly condemned Israel’s actions on Sunday in occupied East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.Dozens of Palestinians were injured on Sunday when Israeli security forces forced their way into the flashpoint mosque complex and used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse Muslim worshippers.

“The occupiers [i.e., the Israelis] should show some restraint before this issue reaches the point of no return,” Gormez said.

Gormez went on to warn that closing the mosque to Muslim worshippers and allowing extremist Jewish settlers and Israeli security forces into the area constituted a “dangerous step” that was aimed at “partitioning” the iconic mosque complex.

Sunday’s incursions by Jewish settlers and Israeli security forces, Gormez added, threatened Al-Aqsawith fresh attempts to “forcibly” divide the mosque for worship on a space and time based manner.

Earlier Sunday, scores of extremist Jewish settlers – led by Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and backed by dozens of Israeli police and soldiers – also forced their way into the mosque compound.

According to Gormez, such assaults on the sanctity of Al-Aqsa – which have become increasingly frequent in recent months – “constitute an affront to all Muslims and all people of conscience”.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount”, claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Some extremist Jewish groups have called for the demolition of the Al-Aqsa Mosque so that a Jewish temple might be built in its place.

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