Middle East: Israeli forces attacked Palestinian worshippers inside al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem in a pre-dawn raid on Friday. Media say at least 150 Palestinians have been injured.
Israeli police said “dozens of masked men” marched into Al-Aqsa setting off fireworks before crowds hurled stones towards the Western Wall — considered the holiest site where Jews can pray. Witnesses said Palestinians threw stones at Israeli forces, who fired rubber-coated bullets and sound grenades. The Palestinian Red Crescent said 153 people were hospitalized and “dozens” of others were treated at the scene. Israeli police said at least three officers were hurt. Around 400 people were arrested, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club said.
The clashes come after three weeks of deadly violence in Israel and the occupied West Bank, and as the Jewish festival of Passover and Christian Easter overlap with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Al-Aqsa is Islam’s third-holiest site. Jews refer to it as the Temple Mount, referencing two temples said to have stood there in antiquity. Last year during the Muslim fasting month, clashes that flared in Jerusalem, including between Israeli forces and Palestinians visiting Al-Aqsa, led to 11 days of devastating conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Friday’s “riots” were “unacceptable”.