Israeli police raided the Jerusalem shrine, clashed with Palestinian believers

Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City early Wednesday and attacked Palestinian worshippers, Palestinian media reported, sparking fears of wider tensions as Islamic and Jewish holidays coincide.

The incidents raised a wave of protests, condemnations and violence by Palestinians. The Israeli army said rocket warnings were heard in Israeli communities around the Gaza Strip.

Tensions in East Jerusalem and the West Bank have already been high for months, and fears of further violence have been heightened by the approach of the Muslim holy month of fasting and Passover.

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Such confrontations at the disputed holy compound, Islam’s third holiest site, which is also Judaism’s holiest site and is called the Temple Mount, have sparked deadly cross-border wars between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas leaders in the past, most recently. was in 2021

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Videos on social media purportedly show Muslims and Jews paying their respects at the disputed hilltop mosque as Israeli police beat Palestinians with batons and rifles.

Click to play the video.

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The official Palestinian Wafa news agency reported that dozens of worshipers spending the night in Ramadan prayers were injured when police stormed the mosque.

It was not immediately clear what sparked the violence. Israeli police said they used force to evacuate worshipers trapped inside the mosque with fireworks, stones and sticks. They added that an officer was wounded in the leg by a rock and that dozens of “rioters” were arrested.

The violence in Jerusalem has sparked protests and condemnation from Palestinians. In Gaza, Hamas has called for large protests, and people have taken to the streets, calling for a move to the heavily guarded Gaza-Israel border for more violent demonstrations.

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The leadership of Palestine condemned the attack on believers. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudayneh, warned Israel that such a move “crosses all red lines and will lead to a major explosion.”

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In Gaza, the Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad also called on Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Israel to go and gather around the Al-Aqsa Mosque and resist Israeli forces.

Earlier on Tuesday, a Palestinian suspect stabbed two Israelis near an army base south of Tel Aviv, police said, the latest incident in a year-long spate of violence that shows no signs of abating.

The Magen David Adom Paramedic Service said first responders treated two men for serious and minor stab wounds during the incident near the Zriffin military base. The men were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of their injuries.

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Israeli media reported that the two victims were soldiers.

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Police said civilians at the scene arrested the alleged assailant, who was taken to the police station for questioning.

Israeli-Palestinian violence has increased over the past year as the Israeli military has launched almost nightly raids on Palestinian towns, cities and villages, and as Palestinians have carried out numerous attacks against Israelis.

At least 88 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire this year, according to the Associated Press. Palestinian attacks against Israelis killed 15 people in the same period.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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