Masked Men With Hamas Flags Storm Al Aqsa Mosque; More Than 100 Injured in Clashes

Jerusalem's Al Aqsa Mosque witnessed violent clashes on Friday morning, leaving more than 100 people injured. Israeli security forces fired rubber bullets and stun grenades towards Palestinian youth who threw rocks and stones at them.

Violence at the Al Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting had left scores of people injured last year. The clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians visiting Al-Aqsa had gone on for 11 days, leading to a wider conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Israeli police said dozens of masked men marched into Al-Aqsa complex before dawn. The men set off fireworks and the crowds started hurling stones towards the Western Wall, which is considered holy by the Jews.

"Crowds then began to hurl rocks in the direction of the Western Wall... and as the violence surged, police were forced to enter the grounds surrounding the Mosque," it said, adding police "did not enter the mosque," the Israeli officials said, the Agence France-Presse reported.

However, the authorities said the police did not take any action until the prayer was over.

"We have no interest in the Temple Mount becoming a centre of violence, which will harm both the Muslim worshippers there and the Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall," Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev said on Twitter, AFP reported.

Israel's foreign ministry said the masked men carried Palestinian and Hamas flags as they strode inside the compound. "Police were forced to enter the grounds to disperse the crowd and remove the stones and rocks, in order to prevent further violence," it tweeted.

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

Meanwhile, the Islamic endowment administering the site said there was no specific reason for the violence.

However, footage circulating online displayed Palestinians throwing rocks and police retaliating by firing tear gas and stun grenades on the surrounding area of the mosque. Others displayed worshippers protecting themselves by barricading inside the mosque. The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service claims to have evacuated 67 people to hospitals who had been wounded in the violent clashes severely.

Israel has carried out a series of arrests and military operations in the occupied West Bank, triggering clashes which resulted in several Palestinians being killed. Tensions have mounted especially in the last few weeks due to a wave of attacks by Palestinians that ended with 14 people dead inside Israel.

Israeli police and Palestinians clash in Jerusalem over mew Al-Aqsa security measures
Israeli police and Palestinians clash over Al-Aqsa security measures in Jerusalem

According to an Associated Press count, the recent upsurge in violence has killed at least 25 Palestinians. Several of these either had a hand in carrying out the attacks or were involved in them. Israel had made moves to remove the restrictions and taken a few steps to try and pacify the distress prior to Ramadan, but constant attacks and military raids have contributed majorly to sparking unrest again.

This article was first published on April 15, 2022