At least twenty-thousand Arab residents of Israel, residents of Nazareth city, protested on Friday against the Israeli excavations near the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.The protest took off after Friday prayers at Al Salaam Mosque in the city carrying Palestinian and green flags while chanting slogans against the Israeli attacks, and assaults against the Holy places.


The protesters described these attacks as “acts of terror”, against holy sites.


The protesters also carried posters, in English and Arabic, slamming the Israeli attacks, and marched in the streets of Nazareth.


The Israeli police was intensively deployed in the area.


Kamal Al Khateeb, deputy head of the Islamic Movement in the north, said that the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, and the Defense Minister, Amir Peretz, gave direct orders to the army and police to open fire at protesters at the Al Aqsa Mosque.


Addressing the Israeli government, Al Khateeb said that it does not have any rights in the Al Aqsa Mosque, and that thousands are protesting to reaffirm to the world “that Jerusalem is the capital of the upcoming Islamic caliphate”.  


Also, Sheikh Ra’ad Salah, head of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch, said that Israel wants to conquer the mosque, and already started to destroy part of it.


Israel claimed the excavations at the “Mugrabi Gate” near the mosque were aimed at shoring up a rickety bridge.


In Jerusalem on Friday, the Israeli army and police attacked the Palestinian worshipers inside the Aqsa mosque in the old city of Jerusalem on Friday.


Eyewitnesses stated that massive Israeli forces invaded the main yard of the mosque and started to fire live rounds, tear gas and sound bombs at the civilians shortly after the Friday prayers finished.


Medical sources reported a number of injuries due to gas inhalation, and fractures due to the usage of excusive force against civilians.


Security sources in Jerusalem also said that a number of Palestinian youths were abducted by the Israeli forces. Clashes erupted when soldiers invaded the mosque and are still ongoing. Scores of Palestinian civilians have been injured and Israeli sources are reporting that one Israeli police officer was injured during the clashes. Seventeen residents were taken prisoner.


The Israeli army and police increased their force presence in the area of the mosque and in several areas leading to the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday morning, and barred residents under the age of 40 from entering Jerusalem.