SRINAGAR: At least 14 Palestinians have been injured and hundreds arrested in an Israeli police raid on Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque, triggering clashes in the West Bank, cross-border strikes in the Gaza Strip and fears of wider escalation over the holiday period, media reports said.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said 14 people sustained wounds from rubber-tipped bullets, beatings, teargas inhalation and stun grenades, and added that Israeli forces had prevented its medics from reaching the area. Firas al-Jibrini, a Palestinian lawyer, said police arrested about 500 people who were taken for questioning.
As per media reports, Israeli police said they moved in after “several law-breaking youths and masked agitators” brought fireworks, sticks and stones and barricaded themselves into the mosque. Police said the youths chanted violent slogans and locked the front doors.
The Temple Mount, located in occupied East Jerusalem and holy to both Jews and Muslims, is regularly the scene of violence. This year’s overlap of Ramadan and Passover, however, increases the possibility of friction as the city hosts an unusually large influx of pilgrims.
Al-Aqsa is the third-holiest site in Islam and is typically packed with worshippers during Ramadan.