Israeli Forces Assault Worshippers At Al-Aqsa, Egypt and Social Media React

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Defense Forces Attack Worshipers At Al-Aqsa, Egypt and Social Media React

Photo credit: Ahmad Gharbali/ AFP via Getty Images

Defense Forces Attack Worshipers At Al-Aqsa, Egypt and Social Media React

The Israel Defense Forces violently attacked worshipers at the Al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem during the early hours of Wednesday, March 5. During the raid, 350 Palestinians were arrested and 14 were injured according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Israeli forces reportedly used skip bullets, stun grenades and tear gas during the attack, and restricted Red Crescent medical facilities from entering the attack site.

Social media began to flood with videos of the attack, where the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) can be seen attacking Palestinians with what appears to be rifles, with the sound of screams in the background.

The attack came at a crossroads between the holy month of Ramadan and the eve of the Jewish holiday, Passover, spreading fears of a possible escalation of violence in the coming days.

Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the move, demanding an immediate end to the violence. In a statement issued earlier today, the ministry declared the strike a violation of international law.

The Israeli police issued a statement, justifying its actions by saying that “hidden instigators” had locked themselves inside the structure, and therefore, were violating an agreement that prohibited anyone who be in the mosque overnight. Meanwhile, protesters in Beit Ummar – a territory in the occupied West Bank – expressed their disapproval of the Al-Aqsa attack by burning tires, and throwing rocks and explosive devices, according to the Israeli army. Israeli forces resorted to live fire, after a soldier was injured.

After the attack, it was reported that rockets fired from Gaza by Israel were intercepted by the Iron Dome. Hamas has not claimed responsibility for the rockets. Israeli fighter jets then retaliated by firing on weapons manufacturing sites in the Gaza strip, which they suspected belonged to Hamas.

The recent attack on the Al-aqsa mosque mirrors raids carried out by the IDF in previous years during the holy month. In 2022, on the last Friday of Ramadan, 42 Palestinians were injured by Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa compound. Israeli forces entered the compound claiming they were spreading “riots.” Similarly, in 2021, as Ramadan drew to a close, IDF stormed Al-Aqsa killing more than 200 Palestinians.

The Advance Days

The attack on Al-Aqsa – one of Islam’s holiest sites – comes days after a Palestinian man was murdered at a nearby site. Early on Saturday, April 1, Israeli police shot and killed a 26-year-old Palestinian, Mohammed Khaled Al-Osaibi near Al-Aqsa, claiming that the young doctor had reached for an officer’s weapon. However, eyewitnesses shared another account saying that Osaibi was shot for trying to prevent the harassment of a woman who went to the mosque by the Israeli police.

The same day, less than 24 hours later, another Palestinian man was shot by the Israeli army for allegedly ramming his car into a checkpoint, with reports saying that he wounded three soldiers.

Violent Start to 2023

According to the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU), the month of January a higher number of Palestinians were killed compared to the same period last year.

Although the United Nations (UN) has recognized 2022 as the deadliest year for Palestine in the West bank, with 152 deaths, 2023 began with renewed violence.

On Thursday, January 26, Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians in the city of Jenin, located in the West Bank. A day later, seven people were killed and three others were injured as a result of an attack by a Palestinian shooter.

Daily tension in the West Bank has resumed since January between the Palestinians, Israeli settlers and the Defense Forces, and the fatal casualties include 16 Palestinians, three of whom are children, and three Israelis; and 1,089 Palestinians and five Israelis were injured. In total, between January and February, 63 Palestinians, thirteen Israeli soldiers were killed, according to a report issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The ongoing violence comes against a backdrop of tension within Israel. Labeled as far-right, Israel’s new government, with Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister, incited mass protests by Israeli citizens that began in early March, over plans for judicial reforms.

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