Israeli police fight worshipers at Jerusalem’s holy site

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JERUSALEM – Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City early Wednesday and assaulted Palestinian worshipers, Palestinian media reported, raising fears of growing tensions as freed -Islamic and Jewish days overlap.

The events sparked a wave of Palestinian protests, condemnation and violence. The Israeli military said sirens were warning of incoming rockets in Israeli communities around the Gaza Strip.

Tensions have already been high in east Jerusalem and the West Bank for months, with fears of further violence fueled by the convergence of the Muslim holy month of Easter.

Such clashes at the disputed holy site, the third holiest shrine in Islam which is also the holiest site in Judaism and known as the Temple Mount, have fueled deadly cross-border wars between Israel and its rulers Hamas in Gaza in the past, the last one. was in 2021.

Videos on social media reportedly showed Israeli police officers beating Palestinians with batons and rifle butts at the mosque on the disputed hilltop site held by both Muslims and Jews. honoring

The official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, said that dozens of worshipers, who spend the entire night in Ramadan praying, were injured when the police attacked the mosque.

It was not immediately clear what prompted the violence. Israeli police said they used force to evacuate worshipers who were trapped at the mosque with fireworks, rocks and sticks. They said an officer was injured in the leg by a stone and dozens of “rioters” were arrested.

The violence in Jerusalem sparked protests and condemnation from Palestinians. in Gaza, Hamas called for mass protests and people began to gather in the streets, with calls going to the guarded Gaza-Israel border for more violent protests.

The Palestinian leadership condemned the attack on the worshippers. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, warned Israel that such a move “crosses all red lines and will lead to a major explosion.” “

In Gaza, Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad also called on Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Israel to gather around the Al-Aqsa Mosque and confront Israeli forces.

The Israeli military said Gaza militants fired two barrages of rockets into southern Israel. Five rockets were intercepted and four landed in open fields. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

Earlier on Tuesday, a Palestinian suspect stabbed two Israelis near an army base south of Tel Aviv, police said, in the latest incident in a yearlong spate of violence that shows no sign of stopping. .

Magen David Adom paramedic service said first responders treated two men for major and minor injuries in the incident on a highway near the Tsrfin military base. The men were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of their injuries.

Israeli media identified the two victims as soldiers.

Police said civilians at the scene arrested the suspected assailant, who was taken into custody for questioning.

Israeli-Palestinian violence has increased over the past year, as the Israeli military has carried out almost nightly raids on Palestinian cities, towns and villages and as Palestinians have launched numerous attacks organized against the Israelites.

At least 88 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire this year, according to an Associated Press count. Palestinian attacks against Israelis have killed 15 people in the same period.

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