Israeli soldiers attack Palestinian worshippers near Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem

Israeli soldiers attack Palestinian worshippers near Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem
Muslim worshippers in Jerusalem were attacked by Israeli forces while performing nightly prayers, a report said.
2 min read
23 May, 2020
Israel occupied east Jerusalem and took control of the mosque compound in 1967 [Getty]
Israeli forces in Jerusalem reportedly attacked a number of Palestinians performing nightly Islamic prayers at Bab Al-Asbat (the Lions' Gate) on Friday, outside the closed Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Dozens of Israeli soldiers attacked and assaulted Palestinians offering Isha and Taraweeh prayers during the holy fasting month of Ramadan, a report by Arabi21 said. A "few" worshippers were reportedly arrested, while the cause of the scuffles remained unclear.

The Palestinian Jerusalem residents had flocked to the vicinity in the morning hours, to perform Friday prayers as close as possible to the mosque – the third holiest site in Islam – which was shuttered over coronavirus fears during Ramadan.

The Israeli forces also prevented the guards of Al-Aqsa Mosque from entering the site, while worshippers gathered by the gates.

Al-Aqsa Sheikh Muhammad Salim called for "practical steps" to protect the mosque, and called on Arabs and muslims to take a "unified stance in favour of Palestine."

The move comes a week after reports unveiled an alleged agreement between Jordan and Israel, under which Israel vouched to bar Israelis from entering the mosque after settlers called to storm it by the end of the muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The Arabi21 report cited confidential sources accusing Israel of "taking advantage of the current coronavirus crisis, to impose unprecedented restrictions on Islamic authorities in occupied Jerusalem"

A video shared by a Palestinian journalist captured scuffles between the Israeli forces and Palestinians. According to the Ramallah journalist, Helwha Arouri, the soldiers attacked Palestinians praying in the vicinity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which has been closed for two months amid the virus outbreak.

In a statement on Tuesday, its governing body – Waqf organisation – said the mosque will re-open after the Eid al-Fitr holiday this weekend.

"The council decided to lift the suspension on worshippers entering the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque after the Eid al-Fitr holiday," the organisation said, referring to the three-day muslim holiday set to start on Sunday.

Known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, the mosque compound is under the custodianship of neighbouring Jordan which controlled east Jerusalem up until its occupation by Israeli forces in 1967.

East Jerusalem has 15 Israeli settlements - considered illegal under international law - housing an estimated 500,000 Israeli settlers.

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