Middle East Monitor / June 20, 2023
Israeli occupation forces stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque last night in occupied East Jerusalem and removed hundreds of Palestinian worshippers, including the Islamic Waqf guards.
Israeli soldiers then locked the gates leading to the mosque and prevented access to Palestinians arriving for night-long prayers to mark the first day of Dhu al-Hijja, the final month in the Islamic calendar, reported Wafa news agency.
Following the raid, the female Palestinian worshippers moved to the steps in the Old City’s Bab al-Amoud (Damascus Gate) area, to protest until the soldiers forced them to leave.
According to local eyewitnesses, the purpose of the raid was to empty the compound of Palestinian worshippers to allow Jewish settlers to raid the Muslim holy site.
Palestinians were also not allowed to perform morning prayers at Al-Aqsa this morning and chose to hold them in the alleyways of the Old City which lead to the holy site.
Palestinians accuse Israel of systematically working to Judaize East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, and obliterate its Arab and Islamic identity.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam and an area where non-Muslim prayer and rituals are forbidden by long-standing agreement.
However, since 2003, Israel has allowed settlers into the compound almost daily.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.