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    03-Jun-2019

Ultra-nationalist Jews' storming stokes Palestinian anger at Jerusalem holy site

 

Reuters

 

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Hundreds of ultra-nationalist Jews guarded by riot police streamed their way into the occupied Jerusalem compound revered in Islam on Sunday, resulting in violence between Israeli forces and outraged Muslim worshippers. 
 
The highly provocative visit came during the final days of the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims flock to pray at the compound's Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam where non-Muslim prayer has been banned since 1187. 
 
Occupation forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets to disperse worshippers, some of whom threw stones and chairs as the Jewish groups walked across the esplanade in front of the Al Aqsa to angry calls of 'Allahu Akbar' (God is great).
 
One Palestinian man suffered a head injury, while others were treated from gas inhalation inside the compound, a medic from the Palestinian Red Crescent said. 
 
Revered by Jews as Temple Mount and by Muslims as Al Haram Al Sharif/Al Aqsa Mosque, it is one of the most sensitive sites in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
 
The director of Al Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Omar Al Kiswani, said the action by the Jewish groups broke with the status quo of the Israeli authorities not allowing such visits in the last 10 days of Ramadan.
 
But Sunday coincided with Israel’s annual Jerusalem Day, when Jewish pilgrims, including ultra-nationalists who claim an exclusive right to the site, walk through the complex under heavy Israeli guard.
 
Kiswani said the visit of what he described as up to 800 Jewish extremists had not been coordinated with the Muslim authorities at the compound and accused riot police of attacking worshippers. 
 
Security at the site has been heavy since an alleged stabbing attack in occupied Jerusalem on Friday in which a Palestinian teenager was killed and two Israelis were reportedly injured.
 
On Friday, tens of thousands of Muslims attended prayers at Al Aqsa Mosque, hearing a message of defiance against Israeli control of the venue.
 
Israel claims all of occupied Jerusalem, including the eastern sector captured in the 1967 conflict, as its capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of the state they seek in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
 
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in 2014 and both sides are still awaiting a promised peace proposal from US President Donald Trump that he has termed the “deal of the century”.
 
Palestinians have boycotted the Trump administration since it broke with decades of US policy and international consensus by recognising occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017. They fear the Trump plan will fall short of their core statehood demand.
 
 

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