May 10 (OrinocoTribune.com)— Hundreds of worshippers inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem were injured during the Israeli crackdown on the holy site over the weekend, reported the Palestinian Red Crescent. According to the latest information provided by the Palestinian branch of the international medical aid organization, 305 Palestinians were injured in the violence caused by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) and settlers. Of them, 228 remain hospitalized, and at least seven are in critical condition. The Israeli forces also targeted the Red Crescent crews and ambulances while they were trying to transfer the injured to hospitals.
The Palestinian community of east Jerusalem has endured a week of acute violence from Israeli authorities and settlers alike, in the midst of looming evictions of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The tensions intensified since last Friday, May 7, celebrated as Al Quds Day in Palestine and various countries of the Arab world. According to Jerusalem-based Palestinian news outlet Quds News Network (QNN)—which has broadcast the attacks on the iconic monument in the Old City live from almost the first moment—on Friday night Israeli police units broke into the courtyards of the mosque where thousands of men, women and children were gathered for the evening prayer, and fired pellets, tear gas and stun grenades, injuring at least 53. Of these, 23 had to be transferred to hospitals while the rest were treated on the spot by paramedics, who reported that the injuries were mostly focused on the face and the heads. Fifteen people suffered ocular trauma, of whom three are feared to have lost vision completely. Israeli forces also fired grenades inside a clinic in the mosque compound, which was recorded live by a Palestinian media outlet.
This is the colonialist Israeli apartheid regime attacking civilians in the Al-Aqsa mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam.
Israel is an extension of US imperialism, so there's little outrage. But if this were China, we'd never hear the end of itpic.twitter.com/iypbXx6y91
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) May 10, 2021
“Opening fire inside a medical facility, attacking medics and wounded—this is war crime,” denounced Palestinian journalist Mahmoud Qaddoha. He also reported that journalists were shot at, assaulted, and prevented from carrying out their work, and at least six journalists were injured in the attacks.
Over Friday and Saturday, the police also arrested scores of worshippers, including a number of women. Images of women—beaten, handcuffed, with their face bloodied, being dragged through the streets by heavily armed police personnel, which were posted by Palestinian social media users on various social media networks, generated outrage within and outside Palestine.
According to local media, the aggression continued through the weekend, and escalated from Sunday morning as Israeli settlers, protected by police, stormed into the compound of the holy site with stones and weapons, entered the prayer halls and clashed with the Palestinian worshippers, including women and children, who had spent the weekend inside the compound. Images posted by QNN and Palestinian social media users on Monday morning, showing defaced lattice works on the windows, broken lamps and chairs, torn carpets, stones, and tear gas cannisters littering the floors of the prayer halls bore witness to the extent of the violence.
Shocking scenes from inside Al-Qibly Mosque showing Israeli police firing tear gas and stun grenades at worshippers in Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. At least 215 ppl have been injured, 4 in critical condition, says Red Crescent. pic.twitter.com/8D6DhgUq4U
— Arwa Ibrahim (@arwaib) May 10, 2021
“This level of aggression is unprecedented,” said a woman who had been inside the Bab-al-Rahma prayer hall while it was assaulted with stun grenades and tear gas. “Attacks on us around Quds Day—attacks, arrests—are quite normal, actually; it happens every Ramadan. Still, we never imagined they would desecrate the Haram-al-Sharif in this way—they claim this place to be their holy site as well! Surely this is related to the situation with Sheikh Jarrah.”
The Israeli Supreme Court has postponed the hearing on the planned eviction of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah and ruled that the Palestinians families “will remain in their homes until a decision is made.” However, this has neither stopped the demonstrations against ethnic cleansing in the neighborhood nor has managed to contain settler aggression on the Palestinian inhabitants of the region. Over the weekend, police arrested a number of anti-eviction demonstrators from the site, reported The Palestine Chronicle.
As news of the weekend violence in Al-Aqsa broke, Palestinian residents and Palestine solidarity groups in various countries of Europe demonstrated in front of Israeli embassies and consulate buildings, while authorities of various countries including the United States, and bodies like the European Union and the UN expressed “concern” over the violence and demanded that “status quo” be maintained at the Palestinian holy site.
On Monday afternoon, Israeli occupation forces—possibly due to international pressure—withdrew from the mosque and established a perimeter outside, where they are still stationed. Groups of settlers had gathered near the Al Buraq wall on Monday morning, ready for a renewed assault on the mosque to celebrate “Jerusalem Day,” but they withdrew too in the face of resistance. According to the latest reports from The Palestine Chronicle live blog, hundreds of Palestinians continue to remain inside the Al-Aqsa compound.
Videos of a fire inside the holy place, while Israeli settlers chanted and danced outside, has cause world indignation. The Middle-East news website Mondoweiss put it this way: “Zionism is Racism.”
Video — Israelis celebrating the Al-Aqsa compound on fire on Jerusalem Day
Zionism is Racism https://t.co/KmZbddJmc9
— Mondoweiss (@Mondoweiss) May 10, 2021
Multiple countries in the Middle East, including Qatar and Turkey, condemned the acts of aggression as “a severe violation of human rights and international accords.” The Permanent Representative of Palestine to the Arab League, Diab al-Louh, requested an urgent meeting of the League to discuss the issue, while Tunisia, a member of the UN Security Council, asked for a special session of the body regarding the situation in Palestine, a call that was backed by China. Jordan, the custodian of Islamic sites in Jerusalem, denounced “Israel’s continuation of its illegal practices and provocative steps” in the city. “Building and expanding settlements, confiscating lands, demolishing homes and expelling Palestinians from their homes are illegal practices that perpetuate the occupation and undermine the chances of achieving a just and comprehensive peace, which is a regional and international necessity,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi asserted in a statement.
Feature image: Fire near the historic and holy Al-Aqsa, Jerusalem, after heavy attacks by Israeli occupation forces and settlers, Monday, May 10. Photo courtesy of RIA Nobosti.
Orinoco Tribune special by Saheli Chowdhury