ISRAELI forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound yesterday morning, firing rubber-coated bullets, tear gas and sound bombs at Palestinian worshippers, wounding hundreds in a concerted drive to force Palestinians out of the compound and out of Jerusalem completely.
This latest round of violence by the Israeli state came just hours before a planned march by Zionist extremists and settlers through the city.
The provocative annual march, marking the illegal Israeli occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, this year has become an explosive issue.
It is taking place amidst a violent attack on Palestinians and their rights by the Israeli government as part of their plan to ethnically cleanse Jerusalem of all Palestinians.
The latest massive upsurge in violence comes amidst preparations by Israeli settlers, egged on by the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, for a mass storming of the holy site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound under the occupation slogan: ‘Day of the Unification of Jerusalem’.
At the last minute yesterday morning, the Israeli police barred Israeli settlers from accessing the Al-Aqsa Mosque, undoubtedly out of fear of a massive uprising by Palestinians if this provocation went ahead.
Instead, the Israeli police stormed the compound.
According to witnesses, police snipers went onto the roof of the gate at the mosque compound and began to shoot rubber bullets at men, women and children while at the same time a huge police force invaded from different directions.
Paramedics were attacked by the police as they attempted to bring aid to the wounded.
By yesterday morning, the Palestinian Red Crescent reported the number of people wounded had risen to over 300, with 153 hospitalised and at least seven in a critical condition.
More than 200 were injured during clashes with the police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and other parts of east Jerusalem on Saturday night over forced evictions of Palestinians.
The latest evictions of families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in occupied east Jerusalem were due to be ruled on by an Israeli court yesterday.
While Palestinians are denied the right to return to the towns, cities and villages they were driven from by Zionist terror gangs in 1948, Israeli settlers are lining up to go to court to claim Palestinian homes as their own while carrying out a campaign of intimidation to drive the rightful owners into giving up their property.
Palestinians, however, are not being intimidated and are fighting back heroically and refusing to be driven out.
The United Nations human rights office warned Israel last Friday that these evictions would amount to a war crime saying: ‘We wish to emphasise that east Jerusalem remains part of the occupied Palestinian territory, in which international humanitarian law applies. The occupying power … cannot confiscate private property in occupied territory.’
In the event, the Israeli court postponed making a ruling – for fear that it would lead to a massive explosion and uprising from Palestinians across the land not out of deference to the UN.
Netanyahu, whose government has collapsed and who himself is up before the courts on corruption charges, dismissed the UN warning with contempt. He is safe in the knowledge that the racist state of Israel enjoys the protection of US and British imperialism.
Both the US and UK governments have made it plain that they oppose Israel being brought before the International Criminal Court to answer for the war crimes committed against Palestinians.
In response to these latest atrocities, all the US state department would do was to call on both sides to ‘show restraint’ while from the Tory government there was not one word of condemnation.
To their shame, the UK trade unions have remained silent on these attacks and the determination of Israel to ethnically cleanse Palestinians out of existence.
Palestinians have the massive support of workers, and the time has come to demand that the UK trade unions organise a boycott of Israel and give the practical, financial and political support to the struggle to put an end to Israel’s crimes, and to establish an independent state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.