Israeli Forces Storm Al-Aqsa Compound

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THE Israeli occupation forces have stormed the historic Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, injuring 12 Palestinian worshippers.

The Palestinians suffered the effects of tear-gas inhalation as Israeli forces with riot gear attacked the worshippers gathered near Bab Al-Majlis, the gate leading into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, on Sunday.

One woman, in her forties, was taken to a nearby clinic for treatment.

The storming of the compound sparked clashes between Palestinians living in Jerusalem’s Old City and the Israeli forces, with at least one Palestinian being detained.

At the same time, extremist Zionist settlers were trying to enter the compound through the Moroccan Gate, a further provocation against the Palestinians.

According to reports, four settlers were allowed access to the Al-Aqsa compound with a police escort.

The storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by Israeli police and troops took place on Sunday after dozens of Palestinian worshippers had spent the night there, fearing a settler takeover during the Jewish holiday of Purim.

Early on Sunday Israeli occupation forces erected checkpoints at all gates leading into the Old City of Jerusalem in the occupied part of the city, preventing entry to all Palestinians under the age of 50.

More than 200 Israeli occupation troops and police surrounded the mosque, and used loudspeakers to call on worshippers to evacuate the site.

Palestinians responded by using the minarets of the mosque to urge Palestinians to head to the occupied city.

The Al-Aqsa mosque compound is Islam’s third-holiest site, after Mecca and Medina.

Muslims refer to it as the Al-Haram Al-Sharif.

The mufti of occupied Jerusalem and the Palestinian Authority condemned the Israeli police forces’ entry into the mosque compound, which he said was aimed at allowing extremists to enter the area.

He warned against the serious implications of the Israeli police’s entry.

The Islamic organisations called on Muslims to be on high alert around March 16, when they said extreme Israeli organisations were planning to mark the global day for Al-Aqsa’s reconstruction.

Last week extremist Zionist groups called on sympathisers to gather at Buraq square, known to Israelis as the Wailing Wall, and march on the Al-Aqsa compound.

Palestinians spent Saturday night in the compound to prevent their entry, while Palestinian national and religious leaders in Jerusalem urged Palestinians to prevent the anticipated takeover by amassing at the mosque to prevent the entry of extremist settlers.

There had already been a dramatic escalation of tensions by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who decreed the Ibrahimi Mosque in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron) and the Bilal Mosque in Bethlehem were now on Israel’s ‘list of national heritage sites’.

This is despite the fact that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is illegal under international law.

Hamas called for a Third Intifada (uprising) and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmud Abbas warned of a ‘religious war’.

Netanyahu tried to mask over what Israel was doing by saying it was just a question of ‘renovations’ that were being ‘carried out in coordination with the Waqf. These are necessary repairs,’ he claimed.

But activists and members of professional associations, political parties, and the Islamic Action Front in Jordan all condemned Israel plan and called on Arab leaders to protest against the Israel’s action.

In neighbouring Jordan, protesters burned Israeli flags and carried placards urging the government to annul its peace treaty with Israel ‘as a first step in defending the holy sites’.

The protesters called for Arab leaders and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to take ‘serious’ action to counter Israel’s plan to annex the Ibrahimi Mosque and the Bilal Mosque, adding that Israel is ‘targeting the Islamic sacred sites in the West Bank’.

Dr Ahmed al-Armouti, secretary of the Jordanian Medical Association, said that ‘the response to this crime must not be summed up with a statement and condemnations, but should be translated into support for the armed resistance option, the mujahideen, lifting the siege imposed on the people of Gaza and cancelling all forms of normalisation and agreements with Israel.’

l Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has renewed his attack on Hezbollah, labelling the Lebanese national resistance movement’s participation in the Lebanese government as ‘illogical’.

But the Israeli media is ‘concerned’ with something else: a visit paid by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad to Damascus to meet Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Israeli media outlets gave the Iranian president’s visit to Damascus a special dimension, putting it in the context of an ‘anti-Israeli axis’ aimed at preventing Israel from considering launching any aggression in the region.

The Israeli media also focused its coverage on what it considered to be a meeting that would crown Ahmadinejad’s visit to Damascus: a meeting that would join the Iranian president with Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah and the exiled Hamas political leader, Khaled Mishaal.

The Israeli ‘interest’ in Ahmadinejad’s visit to Damascus was accompanied by ‘worries’ expressed by Barak, who held a meeting with UN chief Ban Ki-moon in New York.

Barak and the UN leader discussed Lebanon, Iran’s nuclear programme, the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the renewal of the so-called peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Barak claimed that Hezbollah is an army that is armed by Iran and Syria, alleging that the resistance movement ‘has more than 40,000 missiles’ aimed at Israel.

‘Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government, of the Lebanese cabinet, and this makes no sense,’ Barak went on to say.

The chief of Israel’s Northern Command Gadi Eizenkot recently said in a lecture at Tel Aviv University that the Israeli army’s working assumption is that the advanced arms in the Syrian arsenal will also eventually make their way to Hezbollah.

Israel killed thousands of Lebanese civilians when they bombed Lebanon in 2006.

But Israeli troops who invaded southern Lebanon in tanks were driven out by Hezbollah resistance.