Al-Aqsa: 42 injured in new Israeli raids on Jerusalem holy site, says Red Crescent
At least 42 Palestinians were injured by Israeli police who entered east Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Friday, the Palestinian Red Crescent said, following weeks of Israeli raids on the holy site.
The violence came on the final Friday in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The Red Crescent said, adding that 22 people had been taken to hospital, but no injuries are serious.
Israel's police claimed that forces entered the compound after "rioters" hurled stones and fireworks, including down towards the Western Wall, the Jewish holy site located adjacent to Al-Aqsa.
The statement said officers used "riot dispersal means" to contain the unrest, while witnesses and AFP reporters said police fired tear gas and rubber bullets.
Large troops of Israeli forces raided Al-Aqsa mosque this morning amid a heavy use of tear gas and rubber bullets against worshippers. pic.twitter.com/avKf6k9HMk— TIMES OF GAZA (@Timesofgaza) April 29, 2022
Police said three people had been arrested, two for throwing stones and one for allegedly "inciting the mob".
"For the past hour, the site has been quiet and (Muslim) worshippers are safely entering (the compound)" police claimed.
Over the past two weeks, nearly 300 Palestinians have been injured in Israeli attacks at the Al-Aqsa compound as worshippers observe Ramadan at Islam's third-holiest site.
Israeli raids into the site during Ramadan have raised global concern, but Israel says it was compelled to act against operatives from the Islamist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who they say are seeking to spark "widespread unrest" across occupied Jerusalem.
In an apparent attempt to ease tensions, Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has stressed that the government was committed to the status quo at the compound, meaning an adherence to long-standing convention that only Muslims are allowed to pray there.
However, Jewish extremists have regularly entered the site with Israeli police protection in recent years, performing provocative rituals and attacking Muslim worshippers.
Some of the extremists seek to demolish the mosque and build a Jewish temple in its place.
Muslim leaders have expressed anger over the increased violence by Israeli police and expressed, and some voiced fears that Israel was seeking to divide the compound and create a space where Jews may worship. Lapid has denied that any such plan exists.
The violence comes as the end of Ramadan early next week.
Violence in Israeli-occupied east Jerusalem has raised fears that aggression will escalate and lead to devastating events paralleling the 11-day war waged by Israel last year, which killed more than 200 Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, including children.
Recent weeks have seen isolated rocket fire from Gaza towards Israel and Israeli reprisals, but no casualties reported on either side.
The Al-Aqsa tensions have come against a backdrop of violence since March 22 in Israel and the occupied West Bank, after a series of deadly attacks and violent raids. Several people, including 26 Palestinians, have been killed.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett gave Israeli forces a free hand to "defeat terror" in the territory which Israel has illegally occupied since the 1967 war, warning that there would "not be limits" for the campaign.