Days of Palestine, Jerusalem –Israeli forces assaulted on Monday morning Palestinian worshipers at Al-Aqsa Mosque, wounding 25 worshipers.
“At least 370 Israeli soldiers and police officers stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque through Al-Mugharbeh and Al-Silsila gates and fired tear gas, stun grenades and iron-coated-with-rubber bullets at worshippers near Al-Qibali Mosque”, witnesses said.
Witnesses at the scene said that 20 Israeli soldiers went up to the roof of Al-Qibali Mosque, smashing windows and shooting at worshippers.
Sheikh Omar al-Qiswani, Al-Aqsa Mosque director, said that one Palestinian was shot with an iron bullet in the head and 24 others suffered several injuries.
He added that Israeli soldiers closed all the gates of Al-Qibali Mosque with iron chains and surrounded Al-Aqsa Mosque, preventing men under 50 years old from entering going inside.
After the Sunday morning scuffles, which reportedly saw security forces use iron bullets and stun grenades, the Mosque was closed off to men aged under 50, Israeli occupation police announced.
Tensions have been high over the past two weeks during a series of Jewish and Muslim religious holidays, during which security has been tightened.
The Jewish holiday of Sukkot is being celebrated on Monday, immediately following the end of the four-day Muslim festival Eid al-Adha.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest place on earth for about 2bn Muslims around the world. Israeli occupation authorities are trying to partition it, specifying certain times and places for Muslims and others for Jews.
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“An excuse that is uglier than a sin”
Israeli “Defense” Minister Moshe Yaalon has admitted that his country’s domestic security apparatus knows the identities and whereabouts of the Jewish terrorists who a few weeks ago burned a Palestinian family to death at a village in the northern West Bank.
The still-unidentified terrorists set the Dawabsheh family home, at the village of Doma, south of the City of Nablus, on fire, burning to death three members of the Palestinian family, the father, Saad, aged 34, the mother Reham, aged 27, and their 18-month-old toddler Ali.
The fourth and last member of the family, a male child, is fighting for his life in hospital. His conditions have been described as stable.
According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Yaalon said the Israeli security authorities were reluctant to arrest the suspected murderers in order to protect the identity of their sources.
Yaalon refused to say why he thought the protection of the “security sources identity” was more important than arresting the murderers of three innocent human beings and the attempted murder of a fourth.
Yaalon’s remarks drew furious reactions from Palestinians as well as some Israeli commentators.
Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, a renowned advocate of human rights, described Yaalon’s remarks “as very strange coming from a strange minister.”
“These are strange statements coming from a strange minister,” Levy said in a telephone interview with this reporter Saturday.
Levy described Yaalon’s remarks as “beyond Chutzpah.”
“I don’t think he would behave this way if the suspects were Palestinians. He would move to get them arrested immediately.”
Levy described the murderers as “mentally sick people who have served time in mental hospitals, adding that it was very dangerous to keep these people at large.
“They could embark at a new crime at any moment.”
Another Israeli commentator, Danny Rubenstein, rejected Yaalon’s rationale for not arresting the suspected murderers of the Dawabsheh family.
“These are unacceptable excuses. This justification constitutes a real insult to the most elementary principles of justice.”
Rubenstein, who was speaking on the Aljazeera English channel, said the suspected killers would have to be arrested and prosecuted in order to prevent the recurrence of the heinous crime.
Palestinian spokespersons strongly condemned Yaalon’s remarks as “a clarion proof of the Israeli government’s complicity in terrorist crimes committed by Jewish terrorists against our people.”
“What Yaalon is effectively saying is that Jewish terrorists are having an open license to murder Palestinians and burning them to death,” said Ahmed Tamimi, a Hamas spokesman in al-Khalil (Hebron).
“I have no doubt that the Israeli army and intelligence connived and colluded with the murderous terrorists in carrying out the horrible crime”
Tamimi described Yaalon’s rationale for not arresting the suspected murderers as “a cheap excuse.”
“Just imagine how Yaalon would have behaved if Palestinians were the perpetrators and Jews were the victims. Would he have waited any time before arresting the suspects?”
Tamimi said Yaalon was behaving quite characteristically, given his “criminal record” as Chief of Staff for the Israeli army.
“Yaalon believes deep in his heart that a Palestinian is guilty and ought to be killed even if proven innocent, and that a Jewish murderer is innocent even if proven guilty.”
Muhammad Yousef, a Palestinian professor of science from Bethlehem, described Ya’alon’s statements as “an excuse that is uglier than a sin.”
“Imagine how Israeli and Zionist circles would react if a European minister of interior justified the failure to arrest a terrorist suspected of murdering a Jew on the ground that arresting the suspect would have exposed the identity of a police agent and compromised vital security information.
“I imagine Jewish circles everywhere would have left no stone unturned in order to demonize and vilify the European minister. Israel would also ask the government of that minister to immediately fire him for his anti-Semitic discourse.”
Earlier, PLO spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi strongly denounced Yaalon’s remarks, saying the remarks amounted to encouraging Jewish terrorists to carry out hideous crimes and atrocities against innocent and unprotected Palestinians.
The settlers who perpetrated the shocking crime are believed to be messianic Jews affiliated with an underground terrorist group that is devoted to driving non-Jews away from Israel-Palestine in order to establish a Talmudic Jewish kingdom ruled by Jewish religious rule, known as Halacha.
Some messianic Jews believe that the “age of redemption” and appearance of the Redeemer, or Jewish Messiah, must be preceded by worldwide tribulations and bloody violence in which numerous people would lose their lives.
Messianic Jews also believe that non-Jews living under Jewish law ought to be treated as “water carriers” or “wood hewers.”
In the past, leaders of the settler movement, known as Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful) wrote that non-Jews living in a “truly Jewish state ruled by Halacha” would have to be enslaved, expelled or physically exterminated.