Dozens injured as Israelis storm Al-Aqsa

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Dozens of Palestinians were injured as Israeli forces entered East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound following Friday prayers yesterday, firing tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades.

More than 200 police officers clashed with worshippers in the Haram Ash-Sharif, or noble sanctuary, which houses the mosque.

Over 200 Israeli soldiers and police surrounded the mosque, using loudspeakers calling on worshippers to evacuate the site.

Palestinians responded by using the loudspeakers in the mosque, used to call Muslims to prayer, to urge Palestinians to head to the city.

Israeli forces then struck Palestinians with their batons, injuring a number of elderly worshippers.

They had closed off gates into the Old City even before clashes erupted, preventing many worshippers from reaching the site.

The numbers of injured amounted to more than 60, among them a woman who sustained injuries after being shot with a bullet in the eye, while others sustained injuries to the feet, chest and hands when attacked with rubber-coated bullets.

The Israeli forces prevented crews of Palestine Red Crescent medics from reaching and treating those who were injured.

Clashes erupted between Palestinian teenagers and Israeli forces at several gates leading into the Old City, most prominently at the Mughrabi Gate leading to the mosque, as well as the Huta Gate and the yard of the mosque compound itself.

The compound is the third holiest site in Islam.

In a statement yesterday, Palestine Authority head Mahmud Abbas accused the Israeli Occupation Force of ‘breaking all red lines’.

He called on the US administration to stop ‘this Israeli adventure’ that would lead to ‘holy war’.

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

Palestinians spent last Saturday night in the mosque to prevent the entry of the extremists.

Disturbances at the mosque are a central reason for the escalation of tensions in Israeli-occupied Jerusalem, the Palestinian capital.

Another is the building of illegal Israeli settler homes in East Jerusalem, while Palestinian families have been evicted at gunpoint by Israeli troops and watched as their homes were then bulldozed.

The Palestinians and international organisations have already protested about the declaration by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of key landmarks within the occupied West Bank as ‘Israeli heritage’ locations.

Hamas, which governs the besieged Gaza Strip, has already called for a Third Intifada (uprising) over Netanyahu’s declaration.