Monday, June 17, 2024

Hundreds of Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa

Hundreds of Israelis, under heavy protection from Israeli police, stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque ahead of the far-right annual "flag march" through occupied East Jerusalem.

Around 800 Israelis raided the mosque on Wednesday morning, entering through the Moroccan Gate, according to a report by Wafa news agency.

They took provocative tours of the compound, and were joined by rabbis and politicians, including Israeli minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf, lawmaker Yitzhak Kreuzer and Moshe Feiglin, a far-right former MP.

The Israelis performed Jewish rituals near al-Qattanin market and Bab al-Qattanin (The Cotton Merchants’ Gate), one of the main entrances to the mosque’s courtyards.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is an Islamic site where unsolicited visits, prayers and rituals by non-Muslims are forbidden, according to decades-long international agreements.

Israeli groups, in coordination with authorities, have long violated the delicate arrangement and facilitated raids of the site, where they have then performed prayers and religious rituals.

Israeli troops regularly empty the mosque of Palestinians outside of the five daily prayers to facilitate these daily incursions.

The Islamic Christian Commission for Supporting Jerusalem and the Holy Sanctities warned of the dangers of an Israeli escalation at Al-Aqsa, and called on Palestinians to confront settlers storming the site.

Later on Wednesday, far-right Israelis attacked journalists and Palestinian shop owners, as hundreds marched through occupied East Jerusalem to celebrate Israel’s domination of the city.

The annual “flag march”, which is part of the Jerusalem Day holiday, commemorates the occupation of the city by Israel in 1967. It passes through Muslim-majority neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem’s Old City.

On Wednesday afternoon, a large number of Israeli settlers began marching in the vicinity of Damascus Gate, the chief entrance to the Old City for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The settlers confronted Palestinian shop owners, demanding they close their shops ahead of the rally.

Settlers threw stones and bottles at the Palestinians, and chanted inflammatory slogans, including “death to Arabs”.

Several videographers and journalists were also attacked, as Israeli youths attempted to violently prevent reporters from filming them.

Over 3,000 Israeli security officers have been deployed in East Jerusalem for the event, setting up military checkpoints on several main roads.

Israeli MPs and ministers were due to participate in the march, including far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir.

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