Following Friday prayers in the Old City of Jerusalem, 28 Palestinians were injured and eight detained during fierce clashes which broke out after Israeli troops stormed Al-Aqsa mosque.
Worshipers at the mosque began marching, on Friday, in solidarity with more than 125 Palestinian administrative detainees who have been on hunger strike for more than 50 days, upon which Israeli special forces fired stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets in their direction.
Ma’an reports that the soldiers also began beating worshipers with batons, as well as assaulting ambulance crews and journalists who arrived on the scene. Another unit attacked worshipers in the Al-Aqsa Qibli Mosque, where they set off stun grenades and pepper gas behind closed doors.
Yet another unit targeted the Marwani Mosque, also firing stun grenades and gas at worshipers who, according to the Al-Aqsa mosque director, were mostly elderly citizens.
Following the siege, police set up a checkpoint at the doors of Al-Aqsa, checking identity cards and detaining eight Palestinians.
28 Palestinians in all were injured by shrapnel from the stun grenades, with wounds located primarily in the back and the legs.
According to Ma’an, a 2012 US State Department report decried Israeli restrictions on Palestinian freedom to worship in Jerusalem, saying: ‘Strict closures and curfews imposed by the Israeli government negatively affected residents’ ability to practice their religion at holy sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, as well as the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.’
Al-Aqsa mosque is located in East Jerusalem, a part of the internationally recognized Palestinian territories that have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
It is the site of frequent clashes between Palestinian worshippers, Israeli settlers, soldiers and police and is currently being monitored by the United Nations.
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Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.