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Al-Quds flare-up: Hundreds injured as Israeli forces attack Palestinians at Al-Aqsa Mosque

Israeli forces launch a fresh assault on Palestinian protesters Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem al-Quds on May 10, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Tensions are simmering in Jerusalem al-Quds. Hundreds of Palestinian have been wounded in the latest bout of violence as Israeli security forces opened fire in a fresh assault on worshipers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday.

"There are hundreds of people injured from the clashes" and about 50 of them were hospitalized," the Palestinian Red Crescent said in a brief statement to journalists.

Israeli soldiers in riot gear fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas at the Palestinian protesters, who in turned responded by throwing objects at them.

Based on some media reports, a number of wounded Palestinians have been arrested by Israeli forces outside the Lions' Gate as they attempted to flee the crackdown.

The attack is an escalation of weeks of violence against Palestinians in Jerusalem al-Quds that has reverberated across the region.

The al-Aqsa Mosque and Bab al-Amoud (Damascus) Gate in Jerusalem al-Quds' Old City as well as the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood have witnessed a spike in Israeli atrocities in recent weeks.

At least 17 people, including one Palestinian paramedic, were injured during peaceful demonstrations across the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds on Sunday evening, the Palestinian Red Crescent reported.

Outside the Old City, at least 90 Palestinians were wounded a day earlier when Israeli police attacked protesters. Another 200 Palestinians sustained injuries on Friday when Israeli forces stormed al-Aqsa Mosque.

The latest raids against Palestinians come as Israel is set to hold an incendiary march on Monday to mark what the regime calls Jerusalem Day – the day East Jerusalem al-Quds was occupied in 1967 and later illegally annexed by the Israeli regime.

The march, which usually brings together thousands of extremist Israeli settlers chanting anti-Palestinian slogans, is expected to spur further violence in the occupied territories.

Israel sends reinforcements  

The Israeli military has sent reinforcements to the West Bank as part of preparations to further suppress Palestinians.

The reinforcements – three battalions – were sent to the West Bank on Sunday, in addition to four battalions already deployed to the area since the beginning of Ramadan, increasing the number of Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank to thousands more than usual.

The attacks in the West Bank coincide with Israeli escalations against the Gaza Strip, which has fallen victim to the regime’s continued attacks in recent weeks.

On Sunday, the Israeli military said it targeted several military positions of the Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas in the besieged Gaza Strip, after rockets and incendiary balloons were launched from Gaza in retaliation, which caused 39 fires in the south of the occupied territories.

Train activity between Ashkelon and Netivot was halted due to the spread of two fires caused by incendiary balloons between Sha'ar Hanegev and Eshkol Regional Councils, with road access also being blocked off by the fires.

Rocket sirens sound in occupied territories 

Rocket sirens sounded in the city of Sderot, adjacent to the Gaza Strip, on Monday morning. The alarms also sounded in the city of Ashkelon and nearby communities on Sunday night. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, according to Israeli media.

The Israeli military said two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward Ashkelon and surrounding communities on Sunday night, one of which it claimed was intercepted by the so-called Iron Dome system and the other landed in an open, unpopulated area.  

Early on Monday, the Israeli military fired several missiles and shells against various areas in the northern, central and southern parts of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian media reported.

The occupying regime’s attacks targeted east of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip, as well as the areas of Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun in the north of the Gaza Strip. Two missiles also landed east of Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, but Palestinian sources said the attacks caused fires and severe damage.

Hamas: Israel crossed ‘all red lines’

On Monday morning, national and Islamic Palestinian groups called on people to attend demonstrations later in the day to support al-Quds and condemn the Israeli regime’s atrocities.

Head of the political bureau of Hamas Ismail Haniyeh on Sunday called for urgent action against the Israeli aggression in Jerusalem al-Quds and al-Aqsa Mosque, saying the Palestinian people will not remain silent in the face of Israeli crimes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where Palestinians have been forced to evacuate their homes.

In a letter sent to leaders of Arab and Islamic states, Haniyeh stressed that Israel has crossed “all red lines”, expressing hope that Arab and Islamic nations would stand firm in their support for the Palestinian people to “fend off the aggression and crimes of the Israeli occupation, and prevent it from continuing its terrorism.”

World reacts to Israeli crimes

The latest rounds of Israeli aggression have drawn a wave of condemnations from across the globe, with UN Security Council convening an emergency session on Monday morning to discuss the issue.

The closed-door session was scheduled after a request from Tunisia.

Ahead of the meeting, UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed “deep concern” over the continuing violence in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds, urging Israel to cease its demolition of Palestinian homes and eviction of their owners.

He also said Israel should “exercise maximum restraint and respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.”

The United States also voiced “serious concern” about the displacement of Palestinians from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

In Britain, Germany, Turkey, Jordan and elsewhere, people took to the streets to condemn the Israeli regime’s atrocities and voice solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Muslim world denounces ‘sinful aggression’

Islamic nations also reacted to the developments, condemning Tel Aviv for its recurring acts of aggression against Palestinians.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi denounced Israel’s crackdown and said Palestinians have the right to stay in Sheikh Jarrah.

“Iraq denounces all the crimes against the Palestinian people and the prevention of the Muslim community to access their holy sites,” al-Kadhimi told Al Jazeera.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry also slammed evictions in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood as an act of “sinful aggression”, saying the actions of the regime in Tel Aviv and its settlers are “brazen and vicious aggression against the armless Palestinians.”

“Syria stresses the importance of preserving the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people based on the international law principles and the UN resolutions relevant to the Palestinian Cause,” it said.

The UAE, which normalized its relations with Israel last year, urged Israeli authorities to reduce tensions. 

Jordan strongly condemned Israel’s “animalistic attack” on Palestinian worshipers, warning Israel against “continuing its barbaric behavior at al-Aqsa.”

Qatar condemned the deployment of of Israeli forces to Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) in the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, calling it a provocation of millions of Muslims around the world.

“Israel must stop all measures that harm the sanctity of al-Aqsa Mosque,” the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that building new settlements or expanding existing ones, expropriating land, or deporting Palestinians are violations of international law.

Turkey said Israel was unleashing “terror” on Palestinians and urged the regime to “immediately end its provocative and hostile stance and act with reason.”

"Israel must stop attacking Palestinians in Jerusalem and prevent the occupiers/settlers from entering the Holy Mosque. Israel bears sole responsibility for any violence," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Twitter on Monday.

"The world must act to stop this never-ending Israeli aggression against unarmed civilians in their own land."

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan also condemned the attack by Israeli forces against the Palestinians at the al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan.

Khan said in a Sunday tweet that Israeli attacks violate all norms of humanity and international law.

No condemnation from US

The US government, however, fell short of an outright condemnation of the Israeli hostilities towards Palestinians and only expressed “serious concerns” about the violence in Jerusalem al-Quds sparked by planned evictions of Palestinians from East Jerusalem.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in a phone call with his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat encouraged Israel “to pursue appropriate measures to ensure calm during Jerusalem Day commemorations,” according to a White House statement.

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