Israeli police force Ramadan worshippers out of Al-Aqsa
Israeli forces removed Palestinian worshipers from the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem as they observed the holy month of Ramadan on Sunday overnight.
Thousands of worshipers waited at the Qibli prayer hall – the building with the silver dome – to practice Itikaf after thousands attended the Taraweeh night prayer earlier.
Itikaf is a non-compulsory religious practice common in Ramadan where worshipers stay at mosques overnight to pray, meditate and recite the Quran.
Videos shared by worshipers showed Israeli officials entering the prayer hall just before 11 pm local time and ushering everyone out.
Israeli forces restrict who can enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque – known as the Temple Mount to Jews – and when, in what Palestinians say is a violation of their freedom of religious practice.
Itikaf at the Al-Aqsa Mosque is not permitted by the Israeli authorities outside the last ten days of Ramadan, a ban that Palestinians refuse to abide by.
About 150 worshipers were locked inside the Qibli prayer hall on Saturday to prevent Israeli police from removing them, and managed to stay overnight.
Israeli forces regularly empty the Al-Aqsa Mosque of the Palestinians outside the five Muslim prayers, especially overnight and after the dawn prayer to ensure the smooth invasion of the Israeli settlers that occurs every day around 7:30 local time.
Temple Movement groups, which facilitate settler incursions and call for the destruction of Al-Aqsa, have called for massive storms during the Passover holiday that begins on Wednesday.
They also called for the ritual slaughter of animals on the spot which could provoke anger from Palestinians and Muslims around the world.
Ben Gvir suggests storming
Far-right Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said the Israelis must storm the mosque on Wednesday.
“Jews must go up to the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount is not just for Arabs. It is the most important place for the State of Israel,” said Ben Gvir during an interview with Channel 12 over the weekend.
‘The Temple Mount is not just for Arabs. It is the most important place for the State of Israel
– Itamar Ben Gvir
He avoided answering questions about the calls to slaughter animals.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque is an Islamic site where unsolicited visits, prayers and rituals by non-Muslims are prohibited according to decades-old international agreements.
Israeli groups, in collaboration with the authorities, have long violated the sensitive settlement and facilitated raids on the site and conducted religious prayers and rituals.
Religious Jews believe that the Al-Aqsa Mosque was the site of two historic Jewish temples.
The settlers’ calls have raised tensions in the Old City with Palestinian groups calling for a widespread presence at the site this week to prevent animal slaughter and mass attacks.
Sunday’s incident comes two days after Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian worshiper at one of the mosque’s gates late on Friday, in what Palestinians called an “execution”.
Mohammed al-Osaibi, 26, was shot 10 times by police at the Chain Gate (Bab al-Silsela) after he tried to prevent them from harassing a woman trying to re-enter the mosque, according to eyewitnesses .
Israeli police said he tried to grab one of the officer’s guns and attack them, but the family disputes their account.