The Palestinian Center For Human Rights – PCHR: Last night and today at dawn and in the morning, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) raided al-Aqsa Mosque and its praying halls, violently assaulted Palestinian worshipers inside the mosque and in its yards, and fired stun grenades and rubber bullets at them. IOF also arrested and attacked more than 400 Palestinians from al-Qibli Mosque, causing bruises and injuries to tens of them.

According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), at approximately 23:00 on Tuesday, 04 April 2023, following Tarawih prayer, IOF were deployed at al-Aqsa Mosque’s gates and in alleys and roads of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City.

A large number of IOF raided al-Aqsa Mosque via Bab al-Magharebah (Dung Gate) and evacuated the mosque’s yards from worshipers. IOF stationed at al-Qibli Mosque’s gate and ordered hundreds of Palestinian worshipers, including women and children, to leave immediately, but the latter refused and continued to perform prayers (al-I’tikaf) inside al-Aqsa Mosque on the eve of the Jewish Passover.

IOF condoned off al-Qibli Mosque for 2 hours, during which, Israeli snipers topped al-Qibli Mosque’s roof and stationed at its upper windows, while a large number of Israeli Intelligence officers and IOF were deployed around the mosque.

At around 01:00 on Wednesday, 05 April 2023, IOF stormed al-Qibli Mosque via the backdoor of the clinic established in the mosque after damaging its contents. This coincided with the Israeli snipers’ destroying the mosque’s upper windows and heavily firing a barrage of teargas canisters and rubber bullets at the worshipers, filling the mosque with smoke.

Afterwards, IOF beat the worshipers, including young men, women and elderlies, with batons and riffles’ butts, punched them and kicked them. The young worshippers tried to confront the IOF’s raid and fired fireworks and threw plastic chairs at them; however, IOF responded by firing more teargas canisters and rubber bullets in the mosque.

After controlling the place, IOF forced women out of the al-Qibli Mosque and detained hundreds of young men after forcing them to lie down and tied their hands and feet. Footages showed IOF severely beating dozens of young men with sticks and riffles’ butts, stepping on them with their boots, dragging them, and deliberately hitting them on the head and back.

Also, IOF prevented the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) crews from entering the mosque via Bab al-Asbat (Lions Gate) to evacuate those injured, beat some paramedics and broke the windows of some ambulances.

During their withdrawal from al-Qibli Mosque, IOF arrested hundreds of young men held inside the mosque although some of them sustained wounds, bruises and fractures. IOF took them out of the mosque via the Dung Gate in buses to several investigation centers.

Following IOF’s raid of al-Qibli Mosque, many confrontations broke out between dozens of Palestinians and IOF around al-Aqsa Mosque. During which, IOF fired rubber bullets and teargas canisters at the protestors.

At around 04:00, IOF prevented the worshipers under the age of 50 from entering al-Aqsa Mosque and forced the rest of the worshipers to hand their IDs at the mosque’s gates in order to allow them to enter.

Following Dawn (al-Fajr) prayer, IOF accompanied with Israeli intelligence officers raided al-Aqsa Mosque’s yards through the Dung Gate and patrolled in al-Qibli Mosque’s yard and then withdrew towards the Dung Gate’s yard.

Few moments later, IOF suddenly and indiscriminately fired rubber-coated bullets at the worshipers and arrested two of them. They also dispersed the worshipers, who were unable to enter the mosque and performed the dawn prayer outside the Lions Gate, fired teargas canisters at them and forced them to leave.

At approximately 07:00, during the Israeli settlers’ raids of al-Aqsa Mosque, IOF assaulted the Palestinian worshipers, who performed al-Duha prayer in front of al-Qibli Mosque adjacent to settlers’ path, and forcibly pushed them out of the place. IOF also arrested 7 Palestinians, including 3 women and 3 paramedics, blatantly reflecting the state of racial discrimination and apartheid practiced by IOF.

Lawyer Firas al-Jebraini said to PCHR’s fieldworker, around 400-500 Palestinians were arrested from al-Aqsa Mosque and taken via buses to Atarot Police Station. He also clarified that IOF is still transferring the arrestees to Atarot Police Station, so the final number of detainees is not clear yet.

Al-Jebraini added that the detainees are expected to be released on condition of deportation from al-Aqsa and the Old City, stressing that most of the detainees sustained various injuries and bruises before and during their arrest.

Moreover, the PRCS in occupied Jerusalem shortly stated that its crews treated 12 injuries during the confrontations that broke out around al-Aqsa Mosque and outside the City’s walls; 3 of those injured were taken to the hospital for treatment.

It is worth noting that extremist Israeli groups, including the “Temple Mount Faithful” group, called few days ago for raiding al-Aqsa Mosque in large numbers coinciding with the beginning of the Jewish Passover holiday to conduct animal slaughters inside its yards.

Also, the “Return to Temple Mount” Movement offered a financial reward (20,000 shekels) for any settler who successfully slaughters animal sacrifices inside Al-Aqsa Mosque and 50,000 shekels for any jew who get arrested or prevented from slaughtering inside the mosque.

PCHR strongly condemns the raid of al-Aqsa Mosque and its praying halls, the arrest of hundreds of worshipers and depriving them of the freedom of worship and IOF’s use of excessive force to suppress the worshipers and impede medical staff’s work.  Thus, PCHR:

  • Reaffirms that East Jerusalem is an occupied city and that no measures taken by the occupation authorities since the 1967 occupation can change its legal status as an occupied territory.
  • Calls on the international community and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to work on providing protection for civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) in general and in occupied East Jerusalem in particular, including the preservation of their freedom of worship and the protection of their holy places.
  • Believes that the international community’s silence conspiracy encourages Israel to commit further violations of the international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including the measures to create a Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem.
  • Calls upon the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), in light of the recurrent and escalating IOF’s attacks on the Islamic and Christian holy places, to open an investigation as soon as possible in the serious events taking place in the oPt, including Jerusalem