Fresh Intifada erupts over Jerusalem

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A rally in Ramallah rejecting plans to evict Palestinian residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of Jerusalem

RIGHT-wing Zionists who planned a march through Jerusalem yesterday were forced to call it off.

They planned to mark the beginning of the occupation of Jerusalem in the 1967 war. However, Israel’s PM Netanyahu said that the 30,000-strong right-wing march could not go through the Arab quarter of the City, fearing the Palestinian uprising. As a result, the organisers called it off.

Palestinian resistance movement Hamas gave a deadline of 6.00pm yesterday for Israel to withdraw all its armed forces from the mosque, and when it was not met, Hamas fired rockets in the direction of Jerusalem. Air raid sirens could be heard in the city as the sound of explosions erupted and Hamas claimed a successful rocket strike.

The movement’s military wing confirmed that they fired the rockets against the Israeli aggression, and Israel confirmed that an anti-tank missile had been fired from across the Gaza border.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said: ‘The resistance is ready and motivated and will not stand idly by. Its word will be the final word in the battle — if the occupation does not retreat and put an end to its satanic plans.’

The Palestinian Fatah Central Committee said: ‘The Fatah Movement, with all its elements and leadership, calls to continue this uprising … Fatah calls on everyone to raise the level of confrontation in the coming days and hours in the Palestinian lands, the points of friction and the settlers’ roads.’

Earlier yesterday morning as many as 1,000 Israeli military police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Palestinian Red Crescent said that 337 people had been wounded, seven critically.

Ibrahim, a 17-year-old who was inside the mosque praying when the raid began at 8.00am local time said: ‘The Israeli police rushed through all the gates of Al-Aqsa, maybe 1,000 of them, and they started firing rubber bullets and tear gas. One policeman threw a stun grenade inside the mosque and the carpet caught fire. I barely escaped.’

Ibrahim said he sought shelter in the compound’s health clinic, but Israeli police forced their way in.

‘They sprayed pepper gas and lobbed stun grenades – even though people were getting treated there. People were on the floor suffocating.’

Al-Aqsa official Raed D’ana was beaten by Israeli security forces, he said: ‘They started kicking me and pushed me to the ground even after I showed them my work ID. They then ejected me outside Al-Aqsa.’

Nour Mtour, a Palestinian woman who spent the night inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, witnessed the beginning of the crackdown.

‘I tried to help a wounded man who got hit by a bullet in his head, but I couldn’t reach him as police fired a tear gas canister at me,’ she said.

‘Snipers went on the roof of the gate at the mosque compound and began to shoot rubber bullets at everyone – women, men, everyone.’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the actions of the security forces, praising their ‘just struggle’.

He also commended the ‘steadfastness that the Israeli police and our security forces are currently displaying’.

Muhammad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, said the international community must intervene to stop the Israeli aggression.

‘What is going on is a crime perpetrated by the Israeli occupation against the right to hold prayers and a crime against the people of Jerusalem. But their design will fail,’ he said.