Israeli Police Attack Worshippers In Al-Aqsa Mosque, Hundreds Areested
Israeli police stormed the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City early Wednesday and arrested more than 350 people, just days after a Palestinian man was killed outside the holy site.
Violent scenes inside the mosque shared on social media show Israeli forces waving flashlights and appearing to strike screaming people with batons inside the darkened building. Eyewitnesses told CNN that police smashed doors and windows, and fired stun grenades and rubber bullets.
Video shared by Israeli police shows officers entering the mosque by force with their riot shields up as fireworks are launched at them, ricocheting off the walls.
In a statement, Israeli police said its forces entered the mosque after “several law-breaking youths and masked agitators brought into the mosque fireworks, sticks, and stones.”
“When the police entered, stones were thrown at them, and fireworks were fired from inside the mosque by a large group of agitators,” according to the statement.
The Palestinian Red Crescent in Jerusalem said at least 12 people were injured during clashes in and around the mosque, and at least three of the injured were transferred to hospital, some with injuries from rubber bullets.
The Red Crescent added that at one point its ambulances were targeted by police and were prevented from reaching the injured.
“These instigators fortified it hours after the Taraweeh prayer in order to disrupt public order and desecrate the mosque,” the police statement said. “In addition, they started chanting for incitement and violence inside the mosque and locked its doors from the inside with obstacles and fortifications at the entrances.”
Police said they arrested and removed more than 350 people in the mosque, and that one Israeli police officer was wounded in the leg by stones.
Images shared on social media showed dozens of detained people lying facedown on the floor of the mosque with their legs and arms bound behind their backs, and others with their hands tied being led into a vehicle.
Overnight prayers take place in all mosques around the world especially during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in large numbers.