Large groups of Israeli occupation police stormed the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque this morning in advance of mass incursions by groups of illegal Jewish settlers. Muslim worshippers in the Noble Sanctuary, men, women and children, were attacked brutally by the police.
According to the Red Crescent Society, twenty Palestinians were injured as a result of Israel's suppression of protests against the settler incursions.
The police forcibly removed Muslim worshippers from Al-Aqsa (Qibli) Mosque and the Dome of the Rock Mosque within the compound, Wafa reported.
The settlers then entered Al-Aqsa from the Mughrabi Gate in groups protected by the police. They toured the Noble Sanctuary, heard talks about the "temple", and performed Talmudic rituals on the eastern side opposite the Dome of the Rock.
The occupation forces besieged the young men within Al-Aqsa Mosque and fired rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at them. An elderly man was wounded by a rubber bullet. Journalists were kept outside the mosque.
Outside the sanctuary, Israeli police continued to restrict Jerusalemites and set up checkpoints inside the occupied Old City and on the roads leading to the gates of Al-Aqsa. The police prevented many Muslims — Palestinians as well as foreign visitors — especially young people, from entering Al-Aqsa to perform the dawn prayer.
The Department of Islamic Endowments in occupied Jerusalem reported that more than 750 settlers stormed into the mosque today. This brought the total number of settlers involved in incursions to mark the Jewish Passover holiday, which began last Sunday, to 3,670.
As from tomorrow, for the last ten days of Ramadan, Israel is expected to ban non-Muslims from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Settler incursions should, in theory, not take place during that period.
That has not stopped Palestinians from condemning the actions of the Israeli police and settlers. "We tell the occupier that if you think that storming Al-Aqsa will change the Islamic character of the mosque, then you are delusional," said Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas political bureau. "Just as we defeated the so-called flag march, we will defeat the incursion policy. The battle is only just beginning."
The Imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, said that the occupation forces stormed the mosque to cover up the failure of the so-called "flag march" and its failure to reach Bab Al-Amud (Damascus Gate). Sheikh Ikrima told Al-Aqsa TV this morning that the occupation is trying by all means to change the reality in Al-Aqsa Mosque.
It is a fact that so-called "temple organisations" have plans to destroy the mosques in the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa and build a temple for Jews. The regular incursions by settlers protected by Israeli security forces have to be viewed in that context.
All of Israel's settlers and the settlements built on Palestinian land in which they live are illegal under international law.