Hundreds of Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa mosque compound

Backed by police, hundreds of Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa mosque compound
3 min read
18 July, 2021
Israeli forces arrested seven Palestinians in villages and towns across the West Bank late on Saturday, before troops in East Jerusalem violently clamped down on Muslim worshippers at Al-Aqsa mosque to clear the way for thousands of Jewish settlers.
Night raids on Palestinians homes are a frequent occurrence in the West Bank, bolstered by the PA's policy of security coordination with Israel [Anadolu Agency via Getty]

More than one thousand Israeli settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem under the auspices of Israeli police, who had violently cleared the site of Muslim worshippers in early hours of Sunday.

The later incident drew a chorus of condemnation, including from the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian-Israeli Islamist party Ra’am, the EU, Jordan and the International Union of Muslim scholars.

The move came after Israeli forces detained seven Palestinians in overnight raids across the occupied West Bank late on Saturday, according to Palestinian security sources.

On Saturday, two Palestinian men were arrested in Bethlehem after Israeli forces raided their homes. A third man was detained at a military checkpoint near the local village of al-Khader.

In the northern West Bank, Israeli forces stormed the village of Burqin, arresting two brothers, Saeed and Kaser Qiblawi, the official WAFA news agency reported. In another village in Jenin, Zubada, Israeli troops arrested a man after beating him.

Israeli forces also raided Deir Ghasana, a village in Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinian Authority, where a young man was arrested after troops searched his home.

Night raids on Palestinians homes are a frequent occurrence in the West Bank, with Israeli forces alleging that they are searching for "wanted Palestinians".

Under the policy of security coordination, the PA and Israel share intelligence on potential threats against Israel and Israeli forces, leading analysts to view the PA as an extension of the Israeli occupation.

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The wave of arrests came before Israeli forces violently clamped down on Muslim worshippers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque to make way for the planned incursion of hardline Jewish settlers to mark a religious occasion.

Israeli police beat worshippers, deploying tear gas and stun grenade, injuring dozens, and effectively forcing them out of the mosque compound in the early hours of Sunday, according to witnesses who spoke to WAFA.

The settlers marking the so-called "the destruction of the temple" are said to have numbered over 1,300, according to Israeli media reports. In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali has ordered that "visits" there "continue, while maintaining order at the site".

Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, is located in East Jerusalem – occupied in 1967 by Israel and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

Under the auspices of the Israeli military, Jewish settlers frequently raid the compound which they regard as the site of the Temple Mount. 

This is despite an agreement with Jordan - which has the stewardship of Muslim holy cites in the city - preventing non-Muslims from worshipping at the site.