Palestinian worshippers at a mosque in Jerusalem's Old City were caught off guard when Israeli police officers entered their compound, attacking them with tear gas and sound grenades shortly following afternoon prayers.
The Al-Aqsa mosque, considered the third holiest site in Islam, remained closed for hours after Israeli forces forced their way into it, requiring some of its occupants to leave without nary an explanation as to why.
At least 15 Palestinians were reportedly injured in the raid. Twenty others were arrested.
The mosque was sealed closed with steel chains, according to reports. Palestinian leaders called for “immediate non-violent strikes” against the action.
The attacks were not planned, nor were worshippers warned to stay away from the mosque for whatever the reason was that Israeli forces conducted the raid.
“The occupation forces attacked worshippers suddenly without warning after Friday prayers were finished inside Al-Aqsa,” Sheikh Ekrem Sabri, an imam at Al-Aqsa mosque, said.
An Israeli police spokesman said the cause for the raid was due to someone in the streets throwing firecrackers and stones at officers beforehand. But that in no way justifies the raid and injury of dozens of unarmed worshippers, all of whom had no idea what was going on or for what reason they were being barraged with tear gas and grenades.
This isn’t the only time the mosque has been targeted. Earlier this week, Israeli forces stormed into the compound to allow some 1,000 Israeli settlers to barge into the area in commemoration of Tisha B'av, an annual fast day during which Jews reflect on the destruction of significant temples.
This event, and others like it, provide more evidence of apartheid against the Palestinian people. Peace must come to the region, but it seems that Israeli government leaders would much rather employ oppression than work toward a solution that benefits both sides.
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