Israeli police attacked tens of thousands of Palestinian Muslims on Sunday who were holding the morning prayers for the first day of Eid Al-Adha, one of the main Muslim holidays, at Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem’s Old City. At least 61 Muslim worshipers were injured in the clashes, according to the Red Crescent. At least four officers were also lightly-to-moderately wounded, Israeli police said.
Sunday marked both the start of Eid al-Adha, a Muslim holiday commemorating the end of the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, and the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’Av, when Jews mourn the destruction of the temples, First and Second, that once stood on the Temple Mount and other disasters in Jewish history.
The police attack came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and extremist right wing Israeli officials pressed for allowing fanatic Jews into the Muslim holy compound. In order to allow the fanatic Jews in, Israeli police attacked the Muslim worshipers and forced them out of the compound, thereby preventing them from performing their religious obligations.
“Far-right activists have entered the al-Aqsa area to provoke thousands of Muslims celebrating Eid al-Adha,” MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash) said on Sunday. She added, “The far-right activists are backed by [Transportation Minister Bezalel] Smotrich, their representative, who is trying to pour fuel on the fire. The responsibility for this provocation rests on [Public Security Minister Gilad] Erdan and [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.
According to MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash), Jewish far-right activists are not seeking holiness, but rather incitement. “This incitement is not the result of a religious conflict, but a planned continuation of the rampage of occupation forces in East Jerusalem, which kidnaps children, beat protesters, steals evidence and destroy homes,” he said
“The storming of Al Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem by Israeli occupation forces this Eid [festival] morning is an act of recklessness and aggression, designed to provoke religious and political tensions in the City and across Palestine,” said Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). “We condemn this aggression, which is reprehensible and dangerous and hold the Israeli political establishment fully responsible for its grave consequences,” she said in a statement.
“To score points in [the current] election season, Israeli politicians are competing [to see] who can exhibit higher levels of aggression and hostility against the Palestinian people during this important religious holiday, including the endorsement of Israeli settler plans to storm Al-Aqsa Compound. These Israeli attacks and political endorsements of extremism are stoking the flames of religious fervor and threaten to plunge the region into a sectarian war. They reflect a dangerous and irresponsible agenda that must be confronted with blanket and unequivocal international condemnation,” added the PLO official.
Ashrawi called on the international community “to confront this belligerence and to intervene to stop any further deterioration in Jerusalem.” “Israel bears full responsibility for storming al-Aqsa and fueling religious tensions in Jerusalem,” she said.
Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef called to close the Temple Mount to Jewish visitors, in line with the Chief Rabbinate’s long-standing position against Jews visiting the holy site. Most Orthodox rabbis, such as Yosef, and many religious-Zionist rabbis, prohibit Jews from going to the Temple Mount out of concern that they will stray into areas which Jewish law says are off-limits. “The ascent of Jews to the Temple Mount is forbidden according to Jewish law, at the essence of the prohibition, and it is appropriate that the ascent of Jews be prohibited all year-round,” said Yosef.