EU ‘deeply concerned’ by violence at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque

Middle East Monitor  /  April 5, 2023

The European Union is “deeply concerned” by the violence at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and calls on all parties to show restraint at a time of religious holidays, an EU official said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the European Commission’s daily news briefing, Peter Stano, lead spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, confirmed that the EU follows “very closely” the developments in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Anadolu News Agency reports.

“The European Union is deeply concerned by the growing tensions and violence which we have seen overnight inside the compound of Al-Aqsa Mosque,” he asserted.

He also underlined that “it is extremely important to preserve the historic status quo of the holy site.”

Stano condemned “in strongest possible terms the rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel”.

He reiterated the bloc’s call on both parties to “exercise utmost restraint and refrain from actions” that escalate tensions, “particularly in this period of religious holidays”.

This year, a number of important holidays of the Abrahamic religions – the Jewish holiday of Passover, Christian Easter, and Muslim Ramadan – are all celebrated in April.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Israeli police said they had detained 350 Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in East Jerusalem.

A group of Palestinians barricaded themselves in the Al-Qibli Prayer Hall in the complex after Jewish settlers called for a raid on the mosque.

In response, the Israeli police smashed windows and deployed flash charges, tear gas and rubber bullets against the worshippers.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents Islam’s third-holiest site. Jews call the area the Temple Mount, saying it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.


 UK calls for ‘immediate de-escalation’ after Israel police storm Al-Aqsa Mosque

Middle East Monitor  /  April 5, 2023

The sanctity and status of holy sites must be respected and protected, Britain’s Minister for the Middle East said on Wednesday, calling for immediate de-escalation after late-night Israel raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Occupied East Jerusalem, Anadolu News Agency reports.

“Shocked to awake to the disturbing scenes of Israeli Security forces’ raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem injuring many worshippers during Ramadan,” Tariq Ahmad said on Twitter. “Violence only fuels more violence,” he added.

Touching on the “indiscriminate firing of rockets” from the Gaza Strip to Israel and Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, which “spreads fear amongst civilians”, Ahmad called for immediate de-escalation.

On Wednesday, Israeli police said they detained 350 Palestinians from the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, with witnesses saying they used excessive force, including tear gas.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, a move never recognised by the international community.