West Bank: Israeli forces violently disperse al-Aqsa solidarity protests

Clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces in Beita in the occupied West Bank (Wahaj Bani Mufleh - MEE)

Shatha Hammad

Middle East Eye  /  April 15, 2022

Casualties rise as Palestinians rally against Israeli forces following assault on Al-Aqsa.

The Israeli army violently cracked down on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on Friday following earlier raids by Israeli forces on worshippers in Al-Aqsa Mosque. 

The Red Crescent said in a brief statement that their medics dealt with 224 injuries following Israeli forces’ attacks in several cities.

It added that Israeli army targeted its crews and hindered their work in providing first aid to the wounded on site. The army fired live bullets at an ambulance and damaged its external structure in Beita near Nablus. 

Journalist Wahaj Bani Mufleh told Middle East Eye that dozens of residents in Beita held Friday prayers on their lands that are threatened with confiscation in favour of settlements in Jabal Sabih. After the prayers, the Israeli forces attacked the residents and attempted to expel them from the area.  

He added that the confrontations took place in Jabal Sabih and moved to the main entrance of the town, where Israeli forces are constantly present. The army used a barrage of gas bombs and live bullets to suppress the demonstrators, Bani Mufleh said.

The village witnessed violent confrontations on Wednesday, leading to the death of Fawaz Dwaikat after succumbing to his wounds on Thursday, prompting an escalation of tensions and confrontations into Friday.

Media crews of Al-Hurra and Al-Ghad TV said that they were attacked by a settler while covering the confrontations in Beita, adding that he damaged their equipment.

Journalist Khaled Badir said that one of the settlers tried to attack the press crews as they attempted to take shelter in a safe place, and threw a number of cameras on the ground, damaging them.​

Elsewhere, confrontations broke out between young Palestinians and Israeli forces in the towns of Beit Dajan, Qaryut and Qasra outside of Nablus; at the northern entrance to Bethlehem; in the village of Kafr Qaddoum, east of Qalqilya; at the northern entrance to the city of Al-Bireh; and at Bab al-Zawiya in the centre of Hebron/Al-Khalil.

Since the beginning of April, the West Bank has witnessed an escalation of Israeli violence in several areas of the West Bank. In the past three days, seven Palestinians were killed during incursions carried out by the Israeli army across different cities. The death toll has risen since the beginning of April to 17, and the death toll since the beginning of 2022 has reached 47.

Al-Aqsa attack

The protests in the West Bank came hours after footage of Israeli forces’ raids in al-Aqsa Mosque caused anger among Palestinians. 

Dozens of worshippers were wounded as Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, teargas and stun grenades during the dawn assault on the East Jerusalem site.

Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the imam of Al-Aqsa, said the raid was intended to pave the way for Israeli settlers to storm the mosque during the Jewish Passover holiday, which starts later this evening. 

“What happened today was a premeditated and orchestrated attack after the mobilization of occupation forces to suppress the defenceless worshipers,” Sabri told MEE

Palestinians fear the coming days will witness an escalation in the frequency of confrontations, especially with the constant threat of settlers to slaughter sacrifices inside Al-Aqsa Mosque, which the Palestinians consider a serious violation of one of  holiest Islamic sites.

Shatha Hammad is a Palestinian freelance journalist