Anger as Israeli forces storm al-Aqsa Mosque compound
Israeli police and special forces stormed al-Aqsa Mosque compound for a second straight day on Monday, attempting to detain Palestinian activists who have taken shelter in the besieged Qibli Mosque.
Al-Aqsa is considered the third holiest site in the Islamic faith.
Local sources told al-Araby al-Jadeed "The occupation forces have told officials in the Islamic Endowments Authority in Jerusalem that they intend to detain the protesters in al-Aqsa."
|The raids suggests there is a deliberate plan against al-Aqsa Mosque and an attempt to impose a new reality by force
- Director of al-Aqsa Mosque
Clashes erupted again Monday morning between Palestinians who flocked to defend the mosque and Israeli forces following the storming of the compound on Sunday.
Six Palestinians were reportedly arrested while five were injured, one in serious condition.
Israeli forces in and around the Aqsa complex are on high alert, amid reports of assaults against Palestinian activists and journalists.
Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, director of al-Aqsa Mosque, told the Anadolu news agency that around 150 Israeli police officers "raided al-Aqsa, using stun grenades and rubber bullets".
Kiswani said the Israeli police proceeded to seal the gates of the Qibli Mosque inside the compound with chains, trapping the worshippers staging a sit-in inside.
According to the director, Israeli police have also climbed to the roof of the mosque and are deployed in the courtyards, and are currently preventing all worshippers from entering the site.
Kiswani denounced the repeated Israeli raids on the mosque.
"This suggests there is a deliberate plan against al-Aqsa Mosque and an attempt to impose a new reality by force," he said.
On Sunday, Israeli occupation forces entered al-Aqsa Mosque compound and clashed with Palestinian worshippers inside. Several were reportedly detained or injured.
Tensions are running high after Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon outlawed the Murabitat and Murabitun last week, two Muslim groups that protect the site from Jewish extremists.
Yaalon's office said the groups were "a main factor in creating the tension and violence" at the site.
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The raids also coincide with the Jewish new year, amid calls by Jewish extremist groups to enter the mosque.
The Israeli police forces raiding the mosque ostensibly want to remove the members of the group from the mosque.
But many believe Israel is implementing a plan to divide the mosque, with separate parts and times allocated to Muslims and Jews.
A 'red line'
The Palestinians have rejected the Israeli ban and actions.
There were angry Palestinian reactions after the far-right Israeli agriculture minister entered the mosque on Sunday, along with dozens of Israeli soldiers and settlers.
Protests were held in a number of Palestinian cities in the West Bank and Gaza, to denounce the storming of the mosque.
In turn, Palestinian officials said al-Aqsa Mosque is a "red line."
On Sunday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki said "The violations taking place in Jerusalem are racist ethnic and religious cleansing, and could cause a religious conflict in the region."
Maliki made his remarks during an ordinary session of the Arab League ministerial council in Cairo, in reaction to the Israeli storming of the mosque.
The minister praised the Palestinian worshippers defending the mosque "in the name of all Arabs and Muslims," calling for wide condemnation of Israeli escalation in Jerusalem and the region.
Maliki also recalled the growing Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, which he said are meant to preclude the establishment of an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian state.
In Jordan, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said the government has been closely following up on Israeli forces' storming of al-Aqsa, noting that Jordan strongly denounces these acts.
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Nasser Judeh, also voiced Jordan's strong condemnation and rejection of the assault.
He asserted that Jordan, under the leadership of King Abdullah, considers al-Aqsa Mosque a red line, stressing that "the Kingdom will firmly confront any act of aggression that may harm Islamic and Christian holy sites".
For his part, the United Nations Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov has urged restraint.
"I urge all to do their part in ensuring that visitors and worshippers demonstrate restraint and respect for the sanctity of the area," he said in a statement.
Egypt has also condemned Israel's actions at the compound.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Adel Al-Jubeir, has confirmed that movement will be made “at all levels to confront any act of aggression carried out by the Israeli occupation or Israeli settlers against al-Aqsa Mosque,” according to a statement released by Saudi Press Agency.