Occupied Jerusalem, July 27 (TNS): Dozens of Palestinians were injured on Friday when Israeli forces entered East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque and began attacking Muslim worshipers, according to a Palestinian official.
“At least 60 soldiers entered the mosque compound, where they used teargas and stun grenades to disperse worshipers after Friday prayers,” Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for Jerusalem’s Jordan-run Religious Endowments Authority, said in a statement.
“Fifteen Palestinians were reportedly injured, including three mosque guards,” he added.
According to al-Dibs, the Israeli authorities have sealed the compound’s Al-Qibali Mosque with iron chains and prevented Palestinian worshippers from entering it.
For Muslims, the Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount”, claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state in a move never recognized by the international community.
In late 2000, a visit to the Al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked a years-long popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians lost their lives.