JERUSALEM: Israeli police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at Palestinian youth at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday amid growing anger over the potential eviction of Palestinians from the land occupied by Jewish settlers.
At least 205 Palestinians and 17 officers were injured in the night-time clashes at Islam’s third-holiest site and around East Jerusalem, Palestinian medics and Israeli police said, as thousands of Palestinians faced off with several hundred Israeli police in riot gear.
Tension has mounted in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank during the Muslim holy month of Ramazan, with nightly clashes in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah – a neighbourhood where numerous Palestinian families face eviction in a long-running legal case.
Calls for calm and restraint poured in on Friday from the United States and the United Nations, with others including the European Union and Jordan voicing alarm at the possible evictions.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians packed into the hilltop compound surrounding the Mosque earlier on Friday for prayers. Many stayed on to protest against the evictions in the city at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But following the evening meal that breaks the Ramazan fast, clashes broke out at Al-Aqsa with smaller scuffles near Sheikh Jarrah, which sits near the walled Old City’s famous Damascus Gate.
Police used water cannon mounted on armoured vehicles to disperse several hundred protesters gathered near the homes of families facing potential eviction. “If we don’t stand with this group of people here, (evictions) will (come) to my house, her house, his house and to every Palestinian who lives here,” said protester Bashar Mahmoud, 23, from the nearby Palestinian neighbourhood of Issawiya.
US representatives also questioned the monetary assistance to Israel after the violence.
Democrate Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib asking the Secretary of the State, tweeted: “When will the US condemn racist violence against Palestinians? Is it your policy to support settlers stealing Palestinian homes & burning their lands? Billions of U.S. taxpayer $ support the racist Netanyahu government & the apartheid state they enforce every year.” Congresswoman Ilhan Omar tweeted: “We provide $3.8 billion in military aid to the Israeli government a year, without any accountability. As we speak, the Israeli military plans to force over 500 Palestinians from their homes. We must make sure that no US tax dollars are used to fund this violence.”
Separately, Pakistan Saturday strongly condemned the attack on innocent worshippers in Al-Aqsa Mosque by the Israeli occupation forces. The police attacked worshippers praying in the Masjid al-Qiblatain inside Al-Aqsa with stun grenades and rubber bullets.
“We pray for speedy recovery of the injured, reiterate our steadfast support to the Palestinian cause and urge the international community to take prompt action to protect the Palestinian people,” the Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement.
Also, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman strongly condemned Israeli attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem during the holy month of Ramazan.
In a statement, he urged the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and rulers of Muslim countries to raise their voice against Israeli oppression and barbarism at the global level. He said Israel was a terrorist country and its brutalities had engulfed almost the entire Islamic world. He said the Muslim Ummah would never accept the Israeli illegal occupation of Palestine. He said the JUI-F would continue its support to Palestinian brothers.