Israeli forces storm Al-Aqsa after Ramadan prayers, expelling Muslim worshippers

Israeli forces storm Al-Aqsa after Ramadan prayers, expelling Muslim worshippers
3 min read
03 April, 2023
Israeli forces stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque on Sunday night after Ramadan prayers and evicted worshippers who wished to stay inside overnight to worship.
Israeli soldiers and extremists regularly storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque [Getty]

Israeli forces stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque on Sunday night and forcibly evicted worshippers after Ramadan prayers.

The forces entered the mosque's prayer hall after Ramadan's Taraweeh prayers ended and turfed out worshippers who refused to leave, The New Arab's Arabic service Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.

They refused to leave as they wished to perform itikaaf - the Islamic practise of staying in a mosque for a number of days to devote oneself to worship - the Palestinian Information Centre said, sharing videos of the incident.

Palestinian activists accused Jerusalem's Jordan-linked Islamic Waqf of coordinating with Israeli authorities to prevent itikaaf and limiting it to Fridays, Saturdays, and the last ten days of Ramadan.

Last week, sources reported that at February's Aqaba summit, Israel had agreed with Jordan to limit the practice of itikaaf in Ramadan.

"The occupation forces are trying to remove the young men who are in itikaf in the Al-Qibli prayer hall in Al-Aqsa Mosque," the Palestinian Information Centre said on Twitter.

"After the Tarawih prayer tonight ended, the occupation forces rushed to storm the Al-Qibli prayer hall, before the worshipers could close the doors on them and they emptied it of all worshipers," Palestinian activist Assem Maswada told The New Arab's Arabic service Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

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This comes as a fringe Jewish religious group, the Temple Mount Administration, called for Israeli activists to bring Paschal lambs to sacrifice at the site at the mosque on Wednesday, the beginning of the Passover festival.

The mosque, which is the third-holiest site in Islam, is revered by some Jews as a vestige of their two ancient temples.

However, a long-standing convention which Israel claims to adhere to only permits Muslim prayer at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is the third most holy site in Islam.

Palestinian worshippers have frequently being attacked by Israeli forces at Al-Aqsa while Israeli extremists regularly raid the compound. 

Iftar with Israeli officers causes outrage

Elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territories, reports that Palestinian businessmen and tribal leaders had organised an iftar - or Ramadan fast-breaking meal - in Khirbet Sefer, south of Hebron, and invited Israeli army officers to attend sparked outrage on social media.

Video clips circulated online showed the Israeli officers attending the gathering, with activist and BDS groups slamming it as a "betrayal".

"The treacherous iftar meeting that brought together some of those who claim to represent some clans from Hebron governorate with officers of the occupation army… [was] a stone's throw away from [where]… the occupation is working to displace more than 1,200 Palestinians from the Masafer area," the BDS movement wrote, in reference to the Masafer Yatta area where hundreds of Palestinians are under threat of eviction by Israel.

The coming to power of Israel's new far-right coalition government has accelerated threats to Palestinian homes and livelihoods on several fronts.

At least 94 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces this year alone amid an intensification of deadly raids on Palestinian cities by Israel.