Israel's brutal Al-Aqsa raid leaves hundreds injured with rockets fired from Gaza

Israel's brutal Al-Aqsa raid leaves hundreds injured with rockets fired from Gaza
3 min read
05 April, 2023
The Palestinian foreign ministry called Israel's raid of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound an 'egregious assault' on the 'basic right of Palestinians to worship freely in their holy site'.
Protests have taken place in Gaza over the Israeli aggression [Getty]

Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound late on Tuesday evening, wounding and arresting hundreds of worshippers and prompting international condemnation.

The attack on the occupied East Jerusalem site, the third-holiest place in Islam, came during the sacred Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, and included a vicious assault on the Al-Qibli prayer hall.

In response, nine rockets were fired from the besieged Gaza Strip towards bordering areas of Israel, leading to the bombing and shelling of the Palestinian enclave.

Hundreds of members of Israel's forces assaulted worshippers at the Al-Aqsa compound - including after storming the Al-Qibli prayer hall, where dozens had their bones broken with rifle butts and batons, The New Arab's Arabic sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.

Rubber bullets were used to injure more than 10 people, according to preliminary numbers, with a fire breaking out at Al-Qibli due to the deployment of tear gas and sound grenades, according to sources. Israeli forces smashed one of the prayer hall's windows.

Najeh Bakirat, a senior Jerusalem religious official, said more than 200 were wounded in a statement to The New Arab's sister broadcaster Al-Araby TV.

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Between 400 and 500 people were arrested at the holy site and taken to a military centre for interrogation, said the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, located in East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said ambulance crews were not allowed access to Al-Aqsa and that medics were attacked.

Israeli forces assaulted worshippers at several gates in Jerusalem's Old City, preventing them from performing their morning prayers at the site.

After rockets were launched from Gaza, Israel bombed what it said were weapon production sites for Hamas, the enclave's rulers. Witnesses said Israeli tanks also shelled Hamas positions.

The Islamist group did not claim responsibility for the rocket attacks but said these were in response to the Israeli raid on Al-Aqsa Mosque.

They were instead claimed by the smaller Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and the Popular Resistance Committee. The Israeli military says it holds Hamas responsible for all attacks from Gaza.

The storming of Al-Aqsa was slammed by Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

Cairo condemned the move in "the strongest terms", while Riyadh said it was "following with great concern the Israeli occupation forces' storming" of the Al-Aqsa compound.

The Arab League, which is holding an emergency meeting on Wednesday afternoon, said Israel's "extremist approaches" would lead to "widespread confrontations" with Palestinians if they were not halted.

Jordan had called for the meeting in coordination with Egypt and the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian foreign ministry called Israel's raiding of the Al-Aqsa compound an "egregious assault" on the "basic right of Palestinians to worship freely in their holy site".

Israeli forces also stormed the site on Sunday night and forcibly evicted worshippers after Ramadan prayers.

Separately, Israeli forces raided the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, surrounding a house and arresting two young men.

The Lions' Den militant group said they confronted the Israelis and fired at them. Nablus, along with Jenin, has faced repeated and often deadly military raids in recent months.

So far this year, more than 90 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers.

The escalation at Al-Aqsa and in Gaza raises concern of a repeat of May 2021, when similar circumstances led to a deadly 11-day Israeli bombing campaign on the enclave that killed more than 250 Palestinians.

Reuters contributed to this report.