Photo courtesy of Ahmad Gharbali/ AFP

Violence in jerusalem: Israeli police crackdown on Palestinian worshippers for a second time

Read about recent events at Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem, with an explanation of the site’s importance and the events that led to the recent violence in the city.

On April 5, multiple footage of the most recent violence by Israel appeared on Twitter, sparking public outrage as the Islamic holy month of Ramadan coincided with the Jewish holiday of Passover at one of the holiest sites for both religions in Jerusalem. The videos show Israeli police raiding the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, also known as al-Haram al-Sharif or Temple Mount, and beating Palestinian worshippers with [sticks, chairs, and rifle butts] (, sending the latter into pandemonium in the prayer hall hours after arresting hundreds of Palestinians in the compound.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent in Jerusalem, at least 12 people were injured among which at least three of them were transported to hospitals, some with injuries from rubber bullets. Furthermore, it claimed that its ambulances were targeted by police at one point and were prevented from [reaching the injured.] (
In response to the public outrage, the Israeli police referred to Palestinian worshippers as “agitators,” calling their presence a violation of an agreement made pre-Ramadan that prohibits overnight prayers. The Israeli police claimed that worshippers barricaded themselves inside the compound thereby violating the agreement in a statement. Allegedly, the worshippers in question had gathered in the mosque after a fringe fundamentalist Jewish group called for a Passover goat sacrifice ritual at the holy site. “When the police entered, stones were thrown at them, and fireworks were fired from inside the mosque by a large group of agitators,” the statement said.
The conflict has since then provoked missiles launched from southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip against Israeli targets,, where Israeli forces retaliated by launching airstrikes on both territories. Subsequent attacks on civilians also occurred in the occupied West Bank and Tel Aviv, killing two British-Israeli settlers and an Italian tourist. “The militant group Hamas has not claimed responsibility for either of Friday's attacks, but instead praised them as valid retaliation for the prior behavior of Israeli police”, reported NPR.
The violence has gained international attention as the Arab and Muslim world condemned the action. The United Arab Emirates specifically protested against what it termed a "storming" of the mosque, said the Emirati foreign ministry. "The UAE called on Israeli authorities to halt escalation and avoid exacerbating tension and instability in the region," the statement added.
Historically, the Al-Aqsa compound has been controlled and administered by Muslim rulers, whereas the Jewish Torah Law forbids Jews from entering or praying in what Judaism sees as a place of holy presence. In 1967, when the Six Day War erupted between Israelis and Palestinians, with Israel took control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem where the mosque is located, the old city site continued the status quo, with Muslims praying, non-Muslims visiting, and a Jordanian Islamic trust called the Waqf in charge. Daniel Seidemann, lawyer and founder of Terrestrial Jerusalem, an Israeli non-governmental organization that identifies and tracks political developments in Jerusalem, explained that the site is “exclusively a place of worship for Muslims that is open to the dignified and respectful visits of non-Muslims and in coordination with the autonomous authorities of the Waqf.”
During Ramadan [last year] (, violence was similarly carried out over the course of a few days at the Al-Aqsa compound, with Israeli police serving as escorts for Jewish visitors after clearing the ground.
Zhiyu Lindy Luo is Senior News Editor. Email her at
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