AMID international efforts to de-escalate tensions in the occupied Palestinian territories, Israeli settlers have once again raided the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of East Jerusalem al-Quds under the protection of Israeli forces.
The Palestinian information centre, citing local sources, reported that extremist settlers entered the compound through the Moroccan Gate in the early hours of Sunday.
The Israeli troops also attacked the worshippers who came to perform the dawn prayer at the gates of al-Aqsa and prevented them from entering the mosque.
Some of the mosque’s guards were detained and and taken to undisclosed location.
The Israeli settlers, who were being escorted by heavily-armed Israeli forces, provocatively toured the holy site.
They performed Jewish religious rituals in the compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza and houses both the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques.
Israeli settlers routinely ‘raid’ the sacred compound via the Moroccan Gate, tour the site, and leave through the Chain Gate.
At least eighty Palestinians were injured as Israeli forces stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque after noonday prayers on Friday and fired sound bombs and rubber bullets at worshippers in a move described as ‘deliberately provocative’ amid international efforts to de-escalate tensions in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Jewish visiting to al-Aqsa is permitted but, according to an agreement signed between Israel and Jordan – which is the custodian of the holy sites in the compound – after Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem al-Quds in 1967, non-Muslim worship at the compound is strictly prohibited.
Visits accompanied by worship thus anger and provoke the Palestinians, who have repeatedly warned of Israeli attempts to change the status quo of the al-Aqsa compound, the third holiest site in Islam.
Furthermore, the number of Israeli lawmakers who enter the sacred compound has increased since prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided last July to allow such visits once every three months.
Many of the Knesset (Israeli parliament) members are right-wing extremists who support the demolition of the Islamic site in order to build a Jewish temple in its place.
The occupied Palestinian territories have witnessed tensions ever since ex-US President Donald Trump announced a unilateral decision in December 2017 to recognise Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s ‘capital’ and relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the occupied city.
The decision dealt a blow to the Palestinians, who view the eastern sector of the occupied city as the capital of their future state.
The latest tensions come as Israel launched a devastating bombing campaign on Gaza on May 10 after harassment of Palestinians in Jerusalem and attempts to steal their lands and homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of the city.
The occupying regime announced a unilateral ceasefire on Friday, which was accepted by the Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza, with Egyptian mediation.
According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, 248 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli offensive, including 66 children and 39 women, and at least 1,910 were injured.
During the fighting, Gaza-based resistance factions fired rockets into the occupied territories in response to the Israeli bloodshed.
Israeli forces have abducted nearly 2,000 Palestinians over the past five weeks in a series of raids across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Abdul Nasser Farwana, head of the studies and documentation unit at the Palestinian prisoners authority, said in a press release on Sunday that the arrests were made throughout the West Bank, including Jerusalem.
The detainees also included a large number of children, women, and elderly persons.
He said that around one million Palestinians have been arrested by the Israeli forces since 1967.
The Israeli military has reportedly kidnapped as many as 21 Palestinians during swoops across the West Bank and attacks on Palestinian youths protesting against settler raids in the occupied territory.
The circumstances surrounding these latest kidnappings are as yet unknown, but the Israeli forces carry out such swoops on a near daily basis, taking away Palestinians, whom the regime usually accuses of acting against its so-called interests.
Israel currently holds more than 7,000 Palestinians in its jails. Most of the prisoners are being held without charge or trial, under a controversial policy known as ‘administrative detention’.
Israel has built more than 230 illegal settlements on the occupied Palestinian territory since 1967 that now house some 600,000 settlers.
US plunders Syria’s oil
The United States’ occupying forces have dispatched a new convoy of trucks carrying military and logistical equipment to Syria’s oil-rich northeastern province of Hasakah.
Syria’s official news agency SANA, citing local sources in al-Swaidiyah village, reported that a convoy of 86 trucks, accompanied by dozens of armoured vehicles, crossed the al-Waleed illegal border crossing from the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq on Sunday and entered Kharab al-Jir military base in the Yarubiyah district of Hasakah.
The sources added that the vehicles, which arrived at illegal bases operated by US occupation forces in the province were loaded with logistics including refrigerators, trailers and tankers for carrying oil.
The United States is seeking to maintain its grip on energy resources in Syria and loot the war-ravaged country’s natural reserves.
During the past months, Washington has brought in thousands of trucks laden with weapons and military and logistical equipment to Hasakah through illegal border crossings from northern Iraq.
The convoys are aimed at reinforcing the illegal presence of the US occupation forces in the al-Jazira region of Hasakah and stealing Syria’s oil and resources.
Earlier this month, a convoy of 40 tankers loaded with stolen oil accompanied by military vehicles departed from Kharab al-Jir military base through the illegal al-Walid crossing heading towards Iraq.
The US military has stationed forces and equipment in northeastern Syria, with the Pentagon claiming that the troops deployment are aimed at preventing the oilfields in the area from falling into the hands of Daesh terrorists.
Damascus, however, says the deployment is meant to plunder the country’s resources.
The US first confirmed its exploitation of Syrian oil during a Senate hearing exchange between South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo in late July last year.
Pompeo confirmed for the first time that an American oil company would begin work in northeastern Syria, which is controlled by the militants from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
After failing to oust the Syrian government through proxies and direct involvement in the conflict, the US government has stepped up its economic war on the country.
Last June, the US enacted the so-called Caesar Act that imposed the toughest sanctions ever on Syria with the alleged aim of choking off revenue for the government.
The sanctions, however, have crippled the war-torn country’s economy by prohibiting foreign companies from trading with Damascus.
The US and the Europeans had already banned export and investment in Syria, as well as transactions involving oil and hydrocarbon products.
Syria has said the real purpose of the measures is to put pressure on Syrians and their livelihoods – an inhumane attempt to suffocate ordinary Syrian people.
Officials also say the stepped-up smuggling of strategic Syrian resources is the latest inhumane tactic using people’s basic needs as a tool to pressure the