Israel Forces Raid Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound For Second Day; Six Injured in Clashes

Israeli police raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem for a second consecutive day, triggering clashes and more rocket launches from Gaza towards the Jewish state heightening tensions, sources said on Thursday.

At least six people were injured in the raids, according to a statement by the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Al-Aqsa mosque
JERUSALEM, May 1, 2018 (Xinhua) -- Workers build sunshades for the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan inside al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old city, on May 1, 2018 Xinhua/Guo Yu/IANS

In charge of the sensitive compound, the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a Jordanian body, reported that police used stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the worshippers, reports Xinhua news agency.

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that the police stormed the compound while nearly 20,000 worshippers were still performing the Ramadan Taraweeh night prayer.

Israel's police said in a statement that "dozens of law-breaking youths" attempted to barricade themselves inside the mosque to incite riots.

According to the statement, the forces broke in after the youths attempted to close the mosque's doors.

Sensitive Holiday Time

"The lawbreakers began shouting incitement calls, firing firecrackers, and throwing objects at the police officers who were operating at the scene," the statement read.

The violence broke out during a sensitive holiday time when tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers observe the holy month of Ramadan through prayers at the hilltop compound.

Below the compound, scores of Jewish pilgrims commemorate the Passover holiday with prayers at the Western Wall.

Israel police
Israel police Wikimedia Commons

The Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site for Muslims and the most sacred place for Jews.

The site is located in East Jerusalem's Old City, a territory Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war along the rest of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In the wake of the tensions, Palestinian militants on Wednesday night fired two projectiles from the Gaza Strip towards Israel.

According to an Israeli army spokesman, one of the projectiles failed to cross the border and landed in Gaza, while the other crashed in the border fence area inside Israeli territory.

No injuries or damage were reported, and no one has so far claimed responsibility.

The incident took place when Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi was in the area to celebrate the Jewish Passover holiday with soldiers.

Ramadan and Passover

The month of Ramadan this year coincides with the Passover holiday.

Also on Tuesday, Palestinian militants fired nine projectiles from the Gaza Strip, four of which were intercepted by the Israel's Iron Dome.

In retaliation, Israel carried out intensive airstrikes that targeted two military posts of the Hamas in the southwest and central Gaza Strip.

The posts suffered severe damage with no injuries reported.

The latest violence comes amid growing tensions between Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that have been going on since the beginning of this year.

At least 89 Palestinians, including women and children, have been killed since January, while 15 Israelis were killed in a series of attacks in the same period of time, according to official figures.