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Israeli settlers, police storm Al-Aqsa Mosque after attacking Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah

A Palestinian man is arrested by Israeli regime forces while protesting the eviction of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, Palestine, June 21, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Dozens of Israeli settlers escorted by the occupying regime’s forces have stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds, following overnight clashes in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

According to the Islamic Endowment Department, which manages the affairs of the mosque, at least 44 settlers broke into the mosque compound under the protection of Israeli police, and more settlers are feared to desecrate the site later in the day.

Al-Alam reported that the marauding settlers were led by Judah Ghalik, a former member of the Israeli Knesset, who charged from the western gate and performed some Judaic rituals inside the complex.

In the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinians continued on Tuesday, after the settlers backed by regime forces launched fresh attacks on local Arab Muslims, wounding dozens of them.

The clashes erupted on Saturday after Israeli police fired stun grenades, tear gas and water cannons at Palestinians in the occupied neighborhood, which remains a recurrent flashpoint in the Israeli regime’s campaign of aggression against Palestinians.

Footage recorded during the clashes on Saturday and Sunday showed Israeli settlers throwing chairs at local Palestinians. On Sunday, Israeli reinforcements were also called to the neighborhood to aid the settlers.

There were also reports of settlers attacking the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Saturday. London-based New Arab said settlers enjoyed heavy protection as they conducted “provocative tours” on the mosque compound.

Decades-long campaign

Israeli settlers have been waging a decades-long campaign to illegally expel Palestinian families from one of the oldest Palestinian neighborhoods just outside the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.

The neighborhood caught global attention recently following attempts by settler groups to forcibly evict Palestinian families, which ultimately resulted in an 11-day war between the Israeli regime and the Palestinian resistance movement.

The latest aggression comes days after a new regime took over in Tel Aviv, ending the 12-year reign of Benjamin Netanyahu. Under a rotation agreement, Naftali Bennett, head of the right-wing Yamina party, will be at the helm for two years, followed by Yair Lapid, leader of centrist Yesh Atid, for next two years.

While the new premier has been portrayed “as bad as Netanyahu,” political observers and human rights activists fear he would carry out his agenda to expand illegal settlements even more vigorously.

He made his policy clear after the Israeli military launched fresh airstrikes on the besieged Palestinian enclave of Gaza, breaching the terms of ceasefire that ended the regime’s 11-day aggression on the territory last month.

It was followed by hundreds of Israeli settlers holding flag marches in the occupied West Bank amid heavy deployment of Israeli regime forces. They chanted anti-Arab slogans, according to reports.

Similar marches were held in the illegal Israeli settlement of Kedumim near the city of Qalqilya in the northern West Bank and in the Al-Aghwar area near Masafer Yatta in the southern West Bank, under the watch of occupying Israeli forces.

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