Days of Palestine – Jerusalem
Tens of thousands of people gathered for prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday afternoon, despite an Israeli occupation raid earlier in the day that left scores injured among Palestinians.
The Palestinian Authorities said that as many as 150,000 Palestinian people were in attendance for the Friday prayer, which coincided with the beginning of the last ten days of Ramadan.
Earlier in the morning, at least 75 Palestinians were injured when Israeli occupation forces stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, Palestinian medics said, in the latest attack by IOF on the Muslim holy site during the month of Ramadan.
Dozens more Palestinians were injured when Israeli troops fired tear gas at Palestinian worshippers in the mosque courtyard after they left the Friday prayer.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service, 14 Palestinians were taken to the hospital in the morning, and three had serious injuries.
Witnesses said IOF entered the compound after the morning prayers and fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at a crowd of about 200 Palestinians, some of whom threw rocks.
In addition, IOF fired rubber bullets from a close range at a group of journalists documenting the clashes, the witnesses said. One photographer, Ali Yassin, was shot in the throat.
In the occupied West Bank, IOF also attacked Palestinian protesters on Friday with tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets during a demonstration in the town of Kafr Qaddoum.
Jewish extremists who wish to build a temple at the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, backed by Israeli security forces, have stormed the mosque courtyard several times over the past week, leading to daily clashes.
Muslims attend the mosque in increasing numbers during the final 10 days of Ramadan, and an Israeli official said that Jews will be prevented from entering the site at this time.
Masjid Al-Aqsa has been in danger since the Israeli Occupation of East Jerusalem began in 1967. Since the occupation, the Israeli authorities have allowed Israeli extremists to intimidate and violate the sanctity of Masjid Al-Aqsa. However, in the past decade, the attacks on Masjid Al-Aqsa have been directed by the Israeli political elites.
One point of direct political incitement is marked by Ariel Sharon, who in 2019 flanked by Likud politicians stormed the Aqsa Haram al-Sharif. The Palestinian reaction to the Israeli provocation led to the Al-Aqsa intifada. During the intifada thousands of Palestinian homes were demolished, thousands more were arrested and over 3,000 Palestinians killed.
The attacks on Masjid Al-Aqsa and on its peaceful worshippers over recent years have become so frequent that it has become normalised. In Ramadan 2019, Israeli extremists violating the sanctity of Masjid Al-Aqsa were provided military cover by Israeli politicians. In 2021 Ramadan, Al-Aqsa witnessed one of the most brutal attacks from Israel, which included randomly beating worshippers, firing rubber bullets and stun grenades inside the mosque. Ramadan 2022 has again seen a repeat of Israeli aggression, that is going on for longer and being more violently brazen.
Masjid al-Aqsa is the holiest Muslim site in Jerusalem. For Muslims around the world, Al-Aqsa is the symbol of Prophetic memory that not only links the three holiest sites of Makkah, Medina, and Jerusalem but also the Prophet’s biography. Al-Aqsa also forms the fabric of Muslim historicity. Al-Aqsa calls on Muslims to draw lessons from Umar, the second Caliph on how to behave in victory. Al-Aqsa through the life of Salahudeen teaches Muslims steadfastness and perseverance. Al-Aqsa is also the site of meditation and reflection. It is for these reasons that Al-Aqsa was resident for a period to great scholars like Imam Ghazali, Rabia Basari, Shaykh Ibrahim ibn Adham and others.
The centrality and importance of Masjid Al-Aqsa to Muslims remain undisputed. The Israeli attacks on Masjid Al-Aqsa therefore cannot be reduced to being against the Palestinians. The Israeli desecration of Masjid Al-Aqsa is an afront to Muslims across the globe. Israel through its actions and support for the extremists is indicating its disregard for the sanctity of Muslims holding Al-Aqsa.
Throughout the violent Israeli onslaught, Palestinians have gathered to protect Masjid Al-Aqsa. In fact, in Ramadan 2021 within hours of merciless Israel attacks over 260,000 Palestinians gathered to worship on the last Friday. Similarly, this year despite the restrictions, checkpoints, arrests, beatings and possibly being killed over 100,000 performed Friday prayers in Al-Aqsa.
If the spiritual significance of Al-Aqsa Haram Sharif is for all Muslims and the Israeli violations are being suffered by the Palestinians, the important question to ask is what are the Muslims around the world doing for their Holy site.