Last Friday, Muslims worshipers went to Al-Aqsa Mosque to perform their morning – Fajr prayer – as they normally. Unfortunately for them, the Israeli occupation has become used to turning the holy month in Jerusalem into a battlefield. As if every Ramadan should be a tragic month for the city of Jerusalem and its people. Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is the third holiest site in Islam and the place of Prophet’s ascension, has often been the epicenter of Israeli-Palestinian clashes. Last year, it witnessed clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police during the Muslim fasting month. That helped to ignite an 11-day Israel-Gaza war that killed more than 250 Palestinians in Gaza
Ramadan 2022 has witnessed a repeat of Israeli aggression on the Muslim worshipers. On Friday night, Palestinian worshippers insisted on remaining in the mosque to prevent the extremist groups from entering al-Haram. Without any provocation they were suddenly attacked by the Israeli security forces. According to the Red Crescent, more than 158 Palestinians have been injured in the ensuing clashes with Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem. During the encounter, the Israeli police stormed parts of the mosque compound firing sound grenades and rubber bullets and arresting more than 450 people.
Sondus Ewies is a Jerusalemite journalist covered the events at Al-Aqsa last Friday. She gave MEMO this account of what happened: “We went to perform Fajr´s prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque as usual. Then we were surprised by the occupation forces who stormed the mosque. They attacked the worshipers with gunfire, gas and rubber bullets.” She added, “The occupation forces attacked young and old, men and women, journalists and ambulance crews, causing many injuries among them. Additionally, they inflicted widespread damage to Al-Aqsa Mosque’s chapels and courtyards, including libraries, utilities, doors and windows.”
According to Hiba Najdi, a journalist from Jerusalem, Friday Israeli attack was more violent than that of last year. I have covered many events in many different places of Jerusalem, but the confrontations in Al-Aqsa Mosque was always the most intensely enflamed. Najdi told MEMO “The Israeli occupation refuses to accept that this land is for Muslims and the Al-Aqsa Mosque belong to the Muslims. Who can give up of his land or his holy mosque?”
These clashes between Israeli forces and the Palestinian people in Al-Aqsa Mosque come at a particularly sensitive time as Ramadan coincides with the Jewish Passover and their plans to sacrifice animals as part of their rituals in the mosque. In previous years, sacrificial ceremonies took place, with police approval, in other areas of the Old City. This year, however, threats were made by extremist settler groups to slaughter their sacrifices inside the courtyards of the blessed Aqsa Mosque. “The goal is to renew the Passover sacrifice. Yes, that’s the ambition. Every year we try to sacrifice and get arrested, this year we put out this ad and there has been a very impressive response,” Raphael Morris, head of Returning to the Mount, told Channel 12 news.
“Arrested? 400 shekel. Arrested with a goat/lamb? NIS 800. Managed to sacrifice? NIS 10,000.” This is a post from a social media account by a Jewish group calling itself Returning to the Mount. For many years, the Israeli Jewish settler fundamentalist group “The Returning to the Mount,” have advocated the construction of a “Third Jewish temple” in al-Haram al-Sharif. They have worked to revive their religious rites and bring them closer to al-Aqsa. Since 2015, at least one group of extremist settlers have tried to perform Passover sacrifice inside Al-Aqsa compound. This year, the campaign to sacrifice gained enormous traction in Palestinian and Arab media after many adverts were seen online, calling Jews to storm Al-Aqsa Mosque and offer animal sacrifices. “Join the attempts to make the Passover sacrifice and receive a financial reward,” one poster read. Until now, their attempts have always failed due to Jerusalemites steadfast deterrence. Since Friday, Jewish settlers have made 15 unsuccessful attempts to bring sacrificial animals into the complex.
What happened this weekend is just the beginning, the worst of Israeli settler attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque have not yet begun. They have, in fact, announced that the coming assaults will be peak during the period 16-21 April. The so-called “The Returning to the Mount,” organisation have widely publicised their invitation to participate in what it calls a “mass pilgrimage” to Al-Aqsa Mosque.
At the time of writing this article today, Sunday, large numbers of Israeli forces have already stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque to clear the way for settlers to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque and perform their Talmudic rites. Once again, clashes have erupted between worshippers and the occupation forces. More than 19 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli police at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, the Red Crescent confirmed. After more than 500 settlers entered the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque the question remains, where will events lead to in the coming days? If Al-Aqsa is endangered, Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian interior will all be on fire. At that time, Israel with all its military force will not be able control the flames because at that point we will be witnessing a third Palestinian Intifada.