The Israeli police decided on Sunday to raise the so-called ‘alert’ level in Jerusalem after clashes with Palestinian worshipers at the Al Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem. 40 Palestinian were wounded, some seriously as the police fired rubber-coated bullets, gas bombs and round of live ammunition at them.
Hundreds of policemen were deployed to prevent the clashes from spreading into other Palestinian areas in the city. Medical sources reported that several residents were wounded in their eyes and were moved to St. John Eye hospital in East Jerusalem.
The clashes took place after the Israeli police prevented hundreds of Palestinians from entering the Al Aqsa Mosque. At least ten Palestinians were kidnapped and moved to unknown destinations.
The Palestine News and Information Center, WAFA, reported that the army closed the gates of the Al Aqsa Mosque before breaking into it.
Hundreds of Palestinians gathered in and around the mosque in an attempt to stop dozens of fundamental settlers from breaking into it.
The police broke into the yards of the Al Aqsa mosque, the yard of the Dom of the Rock, and Al Marwani mosque area.
Some of the wounded Palestinians were identified as Mohammad Al Joulani, 73, (in serious condition due to rubber-coated bullet in the eye), Rami Saleh Al Fakhoury, 20, rubber-coated bullet in the eye, Adel Al Silwady, 31, rubber-coated bullet in the chest, Mahdi Al Abbasi, 31, concussions to several parts of his body, Samir Ahmad Al Alamy, 44, concussions to several parts of his body.
The army also attacked head of the Waqf and Endowment Council, Sheikh Abdul-Athim Slahab, while he was entering the Al Aqsa mosque through Al Asbat Gate.
Israeli sources reported that five policemen were mildly wounded and were moved to Israeli hospitals.
Islamic leaders in Jerusalem called on the Palestinians to flock to the mosque and protect it from fundamental Jewish groups planning to attack it.
Archimandrite Attalla Hanna of the Greek Orthodox Church, said that what happened in Jerusalem is very serious, and added that the Palestinians, Muslims and Christians, will remain steadfast in Jerusalem and protect the Al Aqsa Mosque and other holy sites in the city.
Hanna added that the racist occupation does not exclude anybody, and that ‘the attacks of today against the Al Aqsa Mosque, would also lead to future attacks against the Church of Holy Sepulcher.
He also said that the Palestinians are the natives of this land, not strangers or settlers, and that the Christians are in solidarity with their Muslim brothers.
Members of Knesset, Arieh Eldad, and Michael Ben Ari, of the fundamentalist Ichud Leumi (National Union) Party said that the police should use more force against the Arab protesters without limiting the ‘Jews right to pray’.