Al Aqsa Masjid, the third holiest site in Islam, was attacked on Sunday 13 September by Israeli Occupation forces. Palestinians praying in the masjid in Occupied East Jerusalem, at the time of the attack, allegedly defended themselves and the holy mosque with stones. However, damage to carpets, windows and doors of Al Aqsa prevailed as Israeli Forces continued fire, tear gas and stun grenades.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he “strongly condemned the aggression of the Israeli storming of al-Aqsa this morning with troops and occupation police”.
As Jewish worshippers made their way to Al Aqsa Mosque to celebrate the Jewish New Year, Israeli Armed forces and worshippers alike barged into the holy arena, without warning and issued fire. Israel says “forces entered Al Aqsa to prevent riots”.
Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, in a statement, claimed that the Palestinian worshippers also had pipe bombs.
“Jewish worshippers were attacked by youth purposefully disrupting the Jewish New Year, by throwing stones and bombs.”
Erdan’c claims are however belied by live videos and photographs uploaded at the time of the attack that show Israeli Forces, dressed in black, with protective gear firing live ammunition at unarmed Palestinians inside Al Aqsa who are distraught and show signs of panic. Outside, shots are heard and Palestinians run for cover, whilst Jewish onlookers are unharmed and joyful.
Evidence also suggests that claims of attacks to Jewish worshippers were false and no reports of detonated bombs were provided in any footage.
“Israel accused Palestinians of hiding explosive devices in Occupied East Jerusalem” reported AJPlus Media. None of these devices were reported to have been found.
With the hashtag on twitter #HandsoffAlAqsa and #AlAqsaUnderAttack live tweets were streaming in about the violence perpetrated by Israeli Forces and the deliberate damage to the holy sanctuary and harm to Palestinian worshippers – men, women and children.
Palestinian experts say the steady string of assaults on Al Aqsa is the prelude to a Zionist plan to divide and eventually occupy the Masjid.
More to this story
Palestinians and Israeli forces have clashed at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque for a third straight day, as Israeli forces were seen on the roof of the holy site.
Suleiman Ahmad, the president of Jerusalem’s Affairs Department, who was at the scene, told Al Jazeera that at least 36 Palestinians were injured in the clashes early on Tuesday.
“They have placed snipers on the rooftops and are using rubber bullets,” Ahmad said.
The site of the mosque is revered as holy by Jews and Muslims and is a frequent flashpoint of violence.
Palestinians inside Al-Aqsa threw stones and fireworks at the Israeli forces and set up barricades to prevent them from closing the entrance to the mosque.
The police forces eventually closed the doors to the mosque with the Palestinians still inside.
Al-Aqsa courtyard tours
Israeli police were trying to allow Jewish activists to tour the courtyards of the mosque, which in the past has stirred angry reactions from Palestinians who fear Israel may change the rules for visiting the Al-Aqsa compound.
Yousef Mukhaimar, the head of the Al-Aqsa worshipper movement, Mourabitoun, told Al Jazeera that Muslim Palestinians were “prohibited from entering the mosque to pray, while Israeli settlers are allowed to enter the mosque and roam around freely under police protection”.
“Wide areas of the mosque carpeting have been burned as a result of the Israeli police firing bombs, bullets and tear gas canisters inside the mosque compound,” Mukhaimar said.
“Netanyahu’s strategy is fulfilling his promises to his right-wing and extremist supporters to eventually demolish Al-Aqsa and build their alleged temple in its place.”
Azzam al-Khatib, director of endowments and Al-Aqsa Mosque affairs, told Al Jazeera that the violence at the site was worse than in previous days.
“Because of the Palestinians who were present inside the mosque, Israeli police faced trouble storming it around 7:30am this morning. Police used tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades,” Khatib said.
“There was a small fire caused by the stun grenades; all who are present here have extinguished the fire, which took place at the entrance of the mosque.”
Abdel Aziz al-Abasi, another Mourabitoun member, said Israeli police have sealed off the compound.
“The bigger problem here is that the Israelis are trying to establish a precedent by dividing Al-Aqsa Mosque compound into sections and time segments, so they can give Israeli settlers access to our mosque,” Abasi told Al Jazeera.
“We will never agree to such plan because it is obvious that the Israelis are trying to take it over piecemeal.”
Source: Al Jazeera