The world has expressed its outrage and concern over the Israeli police raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, one of the holiest sites for Muslims, that left dozens of Palestinians injured and hundreds arrested.
The raid took place early Wednesday morning, when Israeli forces stormed the mosque compound and fired stun grenades and rubber bullets at Palestinians who had barricaded themselves inside with fireworks and stones. The police said they entered the mosque after “several law-breaking youths and masked agitators” brought weapons into the holy site and threw them at the officers.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said at least 50 people were wounded in the clashes, some by rubber bullets, and that its ambulances were prevented from reaching the injured by the police. The police said they arrested more than 350 people and that one officer was wounded in the leg by stones.
The incident sparked a wave of condemnation from across the Arab and Muslim world, as well as from human rights groups and some Western countries.
Jordan, which has custodianship over the mosque, denounced the Israeli actions “in the strongest terms” and called on Israel to immediately withdraw its forces from the compound. “The storming of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and attacking it and the worshipers is a flagrant violation,” said a statement from Jordan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Iran also slammed the Israeli raid and accused it of trying to “Judaize” Jerusalem. “The Islamic Republic of Iran strongly condemns this brutal attack by the Zionist regime’s forces on Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement.
The raid came amid heightened tensions in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which coincides with Israel’s celebration of its Independence Day and Jerusalem Day. The latter marks Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem, including the Old City and its holy sites, in 1967.
Palestinians have been protesting against Israeli restrictions on access to parts of the Old City during Ramadan, as well as against Israeli plans to evict several Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood near Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is considered the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina. The site has been a flashpoint for conflict between Israelis and Palestinians for decades, as both sides claim religious and historical rights to it.