- Fears of violence at the holy site of Jerusalem could spark wider conflict
- US urges Israelis, Palestinians to ease tensions
GAZA/JERUSALEM, April 5 (Reuters) – Israeli police clashed with Palestinians in the Al-Aqsa Mosque for the second day on Wednesday, witnesses said, after hours of arresting and removing more than 350 people in a police operation and despite. US appeal to ease tensions.
The exercise, which took place during the holy month of Ramadan and on the eve of the Jewish Passover, brought fire to the Gaza border crossing and quelled fears of further violence.
In the second instance, late at night, police entered the compound and tried to evacuate the worshippers, firing stun guns and pellet guns, said staff at the Waqf, an Islamic organization that manages the Jordanian complex.
The cultists shot the victims, witnesses said. The Palestinian Red Crescent said six people were injured.
In a statement, police said dozens of youths threw rocks and firecrackers at the terminal and tried to barricade themselves inside. Waqf officials, however, said that they had entered before the prayers were completed.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said: “Israel’s raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, its attack on worshipers, has given a slap to recent US efforts to create calm and stability in the month of Ramadan.”
Less than 24 hours earlier, police raided the mosque in an attempt to remove what they said were masked rioters who locked themselves inside after efforts to remove them through dialogue failed.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said 12 Palestinians were injured in earlier clashes, including from live ammunition and clashes. Israeli officials said two officers were injured.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby expressed concern about the violence in mosques and said it was due to the escalation of Israeli-Palestinian tensions.
VIOLENCE TO GAZA END
Palestinian militants fired at least nine rockets into Israel from Gaza after the first airstrike struck what Israel said were weapons production sites belonging to the Islamist group Hamas, which controls the coastal enclave.
The borders of Gaza have been reported to have no relevance to either side. Hamas did not claim responsibility for the rocket attacks but said it was a response to the raid on Al-Aqsa, where the rally is set for 2021 during the 10-day war with Gaza.
Shortly before the second Al-Aqsa clash, two more rockets were fired from Gaza. Israeli soldiers said one was missing and the other was in the open
“We are not concerned about escalation but we are ready for any scenario,” Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said earlier in the day.
Al-Aqsa compound in the old city of Jerusalem is the third holiest site in Islam, where tens of thousands pray during Ramadan. It is also Judaism’s holiest site, the revered Temple Mount, the site of two biblical Jewish temples.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the situation of “extremists” who barricaded themselves inside the mosque with guns, stones and flames.
“Israel is committed to preserving freedom of worship, free access to all religions and the status quo on the Temple Mount and will not allow violent extremists to change that,” he said in a statement.
Under the long-standing “status quo” arrangement of mixed government, non-Muslims can visit, but only Muslims can worship. More and more Jewish visitors prayed there in spite of this arrangement.
Waqf described the actions of the police as “an attack on the identity and function of the mosque as a place of worship for Muslims only”.
It also calls for RELEASING TENSIONS
“Leaders from all sides must act responsibly and refrain from steps that could fuel tensions,” said UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland.
The Arab League held a tumultuous meeting after condemning the raids and saying they threatened regional stability.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China questioned the 15-member United Nations Security Council about the situation behind closed doors on Thursday, diplomats said.
The UAE foreign ministry also said that “worshippers should not barricade themselves inside mosques and worship fans with explosive weapons.”
Jordan and Egypt, both aided by US efforts to de-escalate Israeli-Palestinian tensions, condemned the incident, as did Turkey. Saudi Arabia, with which Israel hopes to normalize relations, said Israel’s “attack” on Al-Aqsa undermined peace efforts.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said: “Israel’s attack on the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound is a flagrant attack on the fundamental right of Palestinians to worship freely in their holy place.” Gaza was protested by thousands.
With Israel still reeling from weeks of protests over Netanyahu’s plans to rule over the ruling Supreme Court, the fallout from access to the political atmosphere has already reached a fever pitch.
Absent police minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called the response harsh. “Hamas Valley will require more than just blasts and empty sites. It’s time to tear the heads of Gaza apart,” he said in a tweet.
In the West Bank town of Beit Ummar, Palestinian protesters burned tires and threw rocks and explosive devices at Israeli soldiers, one of whom was wounded and wounded, the military said.
Reporting by Sinan Abu Mayzer, Ammar Awad, Nidal al-Mughrabi, Ali Sawafta, Maayan Lubell; Additional reporting by Alaa Swilam, Nisreen Salem, Daren Butler, Aidan Lewis and Michelle Nichols; Written by Henriette Chacar and James Mackenzie; Edited by Howard Goller
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