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Palestinian groups denounce Israeli raid on Al-Aqsa prayer area

April 23, 2023 at 10:36 am

Far-right Jewish settlers guarded by Israeli police raid the courtyard of Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad have condemned an Israeli raid on the Bab al-Rahma, or Gate of Mercy, prayer area of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, Anadolu reports.

Palestinian media reports said Israeli forces damaged light fixtures and electrical systems during the raid on Saturday, which came as Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Hazim Qasim, a spokesperson for Hamas, said the raid was a continuation of Israel’s “religious war against the holy sites in Jerusalem.”

READ: Pipers of Palestine: bagpipers lead scouts march for Eid in occupied West Bank

The struggle to preserve the “Arab-Islamic identity” of Al-Aqsa Mosque will continue undeterred, he said in a written statement.

Islamic Jihad spokesperson Tarek Silmi said the raid was yet another aggression in Israel’s “war on Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

“Attempts by the (Israeli) occupation administration to take control of the mosque will never succeed,” he asserted.

Earlier this month, Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex and forcibly removed Muslim worshippers, escalating tensions across the Palestinian territories.

The raids triggered rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, while Israel retaliated with airstrikes.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third-holiest site. Jews call the area the Temple Mount, saying it was the site of two ancient Jewish temples.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, a move never recognized by the international community.​​​​​​​

READ: Around 120,000 Muslims do special prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque