Israeli police raid Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque for second night in a row

Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City for the second night in a row on Wednesday after Palestinian worshippers barricaded themselves inside. 

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported at least six people were injured at the Mosque. The Islamic Waqf authorities, which manage the compound, said police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds.

Palestinians had gathered in the mosque, responding to calls by Waqf to pray inside overnight. 

At one of the mosque entrances, police officers could be seen escorting dozens of Palestinians out of the compound. Residents and shoppers milled around, watching social media videos on their phones showing the renewed clashes that had happened just metres away.

A girl holds Palestinian flags during a protest against an Israeli police raid of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Israeli police had previously stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque earlier on Wednesday, firing stun grenades at Palestinians who hurled stones and firecrackers in a burst of violence during a sensitive holiday season. 

A video widely circulated on social media shows police officers bludgeoning people to the ground inside the building. 

Medics from the Palestinian Red Crescent said that at least 50 people were injured. Israeli police said they were not immediately able to confirm the reports and videos showing officers beating Palestinians but 350 were arrested.

Rockets were then fired toward southern Israel, prompting repeated Israeli airstrikes. 

The violence comes as Muslims marked the Ramadan holy month and Jews began the weeklong Passover holiday

International condemnation

On Wednesday evening, the spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Roudeina, said that the new Israeli “attack” on the Al-Aqsa Mosque underlined the Israeli government’s desire “to plunge the region into instability.”

United Nations head Antonio Guterres said he was “shocked and dismayed” by the “violence and beatings” by Israeli security forces, according to his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The White House said it was “extremely concerned,” calling on “all parties to avoid further escalation”.

Earlier, Jordan, which administers the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, had expressed alarm at “continuous attacks that could lead to escalation”.

“Trampling on the Al-Aqsa mosque is our red line,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Arab League warned against “provocations” that hurt “the feelings of believers”.

The region has seen a new outbreak of violence since the inauguration of one of the most right-wing governments in the history of Israel at the end of December. Nearly 110 people have died since the start of the year, including around 90 Palestinians. 

In May 2021, violence on the Esplanade and elsewhere in East Jerusalem lead to an 11-day war.

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