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Israeli forces in standoff with Al-Aqsa protesters

February 28, 2014 at 11:32 am

Israeli security forces reportedly surrounded and threatened to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on Monday evening in an ongoing standoff with demonstrators inside the holy site.

Around 200 Palestinians have holed up inside the Mosque and have refused Israeli authorities demands to leave the area, according to Sheikh Ali Shekha, a leader in the Islamic Movement from inside Israel, who spoke to Ma’an on the phone from inside the compound.

Shekha said that an Israeli raid on Al-Aqsa would result in a “massacre” of the worshipers inside.

Hatem Abdul Qader, a senior Fatah official and Jerusalem Governor Adnan Husseini are said to be making contacts at all levels to prevent a police raid on the mosque.

A similar standoff on Sunday night ended in violence, with unarmed demonstrators clashing with police well into Sunday and Monday.

Protests flared again on Monday night after Israeli forces arrested a teenager from Shufat Refugee Camp, north of Jerusalem, for allegedly stabbing a soldier with a knife. According to Reuters, Palestinian teens burned cardboard cartons in the streets and pelted Israeli troops with stones. The same report stated that clashes spread to the outskirts of Ramallah, where some 50 teenagers also hurled rocks at Israeli forces.

In addition to protests in Jerusalem on Monday, demonstrations also took place in the Gaza Strip and several places in the West Bank in reaction to the violence at Al-Aqsa. Schoolgirls marched in protest in Gaza. Students were teargassed when they threw rocks at an Israeli military checkpoint in the town of Halhul, outside of Hebron.

Meanwhile Israeli police announced that restrictions on entry to Al-Aqsa will continue on Tuesday. Only Muslim men over the age of 50 will be allowed to enter, provided they hold an Israeli ID card. Muslim women of all ages will also be allowed.

Source: Ma’an