Israeli civilians and police overtake flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque

For the first time in the last decade, Israeli police allowed Israelis into the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third-holiest site in Islam, during Ramadan.

On 2 June, more than 100 Jewish Israelis stormed the grounds, reigniting tensions at Al-Aqsa, which has been a flashpoint for ethnic and religious clashes between Israelis and Palestinians.

Over the last ten years, police have prevented non-Muslim worshippers from entering the grounds during the Islamic holy month.

Skirmishes broke out between Israeli police and Palestinians that morning. Anadolu Agency news published footage showing dozens of police shooting tear gas canisters at Palestinians, who hurled stones at the Israeli forces.

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Israeli police guards allowed Jews onto the site for Jerusalem Day, which was 1�2 June this year.

Tens of thousands of Israelis took part in the annual Jerusalem Day celebration of the unification of the city, which began after Israel wrested East Jerusalem from Jordanian control in 1967. Although Israel considers all of Jerusalem its rightful capital, international law deems East Jerusalem as illegally occupied territory.

Israeli police successfully dispersed the Palestinian crowds at the site and proceeded to lock the gates to the compound. The doors to the mosque have been closed since Jews began entering the Temple Mount Sunday morning, Haaretz reported around 9 pm (UTC +3) on 2 June.

But the clashes continued when young Palestinians tried to breach the doors. Later Israeli police arrested several individuals at the compound, including a West Bank resident and a foreigner.

The Jordanian Foreign Ministry called on Israeli forces to end their provocations at Al-Aqsa.

The Foreign Ministry expressed concern about the dangerous consequences of Israel’s provocative and repulsive escalatory Israeli practices, which will drag the region into a new cycle of violence that may threaten the security of the region as a whole.

It also called Israeli authorities’ actions at the holy site absurd and irresponsible.

The Bab al-Rahmeh gate to Al-Aqsa has seen a spate of openings and closures since 2003 when Israel first closed the entrance after claims were made that the site was being used by an organisation with ties to Hamas.

Despite the consistent closures and tensions at Al-Aqsa, Palestinian and Muslim worshippers have not been dissuaded from worshipping at the site, saying that Israel has no rightful control over the holy grounds.

A 1967 agreement between Israel and Jordan, which is the custodian of the compound, allows Israelis to visit Al-Aqsa. Non-Muslim worship is strictly forbidden there, however.

Source: Palestine Monitor