۱۵ آذر ۱۴۰۱ |۱۲ جمادی‌الاول ۱۴۴۴ | Dec 6, 2022
violent raid

At least 90 Palestinians injured as Israeli forces fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and stun grenades during early dawn assault.

Hawzah News Agency – Israeli forces have attacked Palestinian worshippers inside al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem during an early morning raid on Friday.

Scores of people have been injured as Israeli security officers fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and stun grenades inside the courtyards and prayer halls of the mosque.

The Palestine Red Crescent said 90 people have been evacuated from the mosque and transferred to nearby hospitals so far, including at least with seven with upper body wounds. More people are being evacuated and treated, as Israeli forces continue their assault on the worshippers.

Al-Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem said they had received 40 injured people from Al-Aqsa, two of them with critical injuries.

Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, the director of al-Aqsa Mosque, condemned Israeli forces for the violent raid.

"The occupation aims to create chaos and assert themselves on al-Aqsa," Kiswani said during a phone interview with Al Jazeera Arabic. "On the ground, Israeli forces are still present on the scene despite them saying that they will pull back and leave the site.

"Worshippers have been blocked from entering the site at the gates, with Israeli forces terrorising worshippers and creating an atmosphere of fear."

Medics prevented from entering

The raid began shortly after dawn prayer was finished, around 5.30am local time, and was still ongoing as of 9.30am.

Israeli forces stormed the courtyards of the mosque from several gates, climbed the roof of the Qibli prayer hall – the main building on the site from where congregational prayers are led - and proceeded to fire at worshippers, preventing medics from accessing the building to treat the injured.

Footage shared online showed tear gas and stun grenades being fired inside the silver-domed Qibli prayer hall.

After four hours of assaults, Israeli forces cleared all the mosque's courtyards of almost all worshippers. They then moved in on worshippers inside the Qibli prayer hall who refused to be forced out. However, dozens of Israeli officers forced their way in and fired directly at them, before arresting at least 40.

Meanwhile, Israeli guards stationed at the mosque's gate are preventing Palestinians from entering the site ahead of Friday prayer, due to start in a few hours.

The buildings inside the complex have been damaged in the attack, according to witness accounts.

Medics, journalists, mosque volunteers and women were targeted, according to Palestinian media reports. Journalists Muhammad Samreen and Rami al-Khateeb were among those injured. At least one child was detained.

The raid comes on the second Friday of Ramadan, the holiest month of year for Muslims, where tens of thousands of worshippers flock to al-Aqsa to pray.

It also precedes the Jewish holiday of Passover, set to start on Friday and last until 23 April, during which far-right Israeli settlers have vowed to raid al-Aqsa Mosque and slaughter animals inside its courtyard as a religious sacrifice.

Such groups also advocate for the destruction of the mosque, where they believe two ancient Jewish temples once stood, to make way for a third temple.

Last year, multiple violent raids by Israeli forces inside al-Aqsa Mosque prompted widespread demonstrations across the occupied West Bank and the Palestinian community inside Israel, leading to an 11-day war between Israel and armed groups in Gaza.

Israel's large-scale military operation on the besieged Strip killed 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, according to the UN. In Israel, 13 people were killed by rockets launched from Gaza.

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