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Israel/OPT: Second night of horror at al-Aqsa mosque


©Anadolu Agency / Contributor/ Getty Images


A second consecutive night-time attack on Palestinian worshippers at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque illustrates the sheer brutality of Israel’s apartheid, Amnesty International said today. Israeli security forces stormed the mosque compound at around 10.30 pm last night, shortly after evening prayers. They fired stun grenades and used rifle butts to beat Palestinians who had gathered at the mosque for Ramadan.


During the first attack on Tuesday night, Israeli security forces arrested at least 450 Palestinians, about 50 of whom are still in detention. Many of those who were released were barefoot and visibly battered and bruised when they emerged from Atarot Detention Centre on Wednesday. A lawyer at the scene told Amnesty International that many detainees, including children, were interrogated and beaten while in detention. Amnesty International also heard from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society how, during Tuesday night’s attack, Israeli forces had prevented paramedics from accessing wounded people inside the mosque compound by firing rubber bullets at ambulances.


“These orchestrated attacks demonstrate just how far Israeli authorities will go to maintain their cruel system of apartheid. Shocking footage from the past two days shows Israeli security forces beating men, women and children, and dragging them out of the mosque where they had gathered to spend the night in peaceful prayer and reflection. Once again, Israeli security forces have shown the world what apartheid looks like,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.


“Israeli security forces have now subjected Palestinian worshippers to two consecutive nights of horror, and turned one of the holiest sites in Islam into a crime scene. We urge the international community to take immediate action to protect Palestinians from violent oppression, and to hold Israeli authorities accountable for their crimes against international law. Impunity for these shocking attacks against people at prayer will only fuel further violence.”


With many Palestinians fearful following Tuesday night’s violence, the number of worshippers at al-Aqsa was much lower yesterday. Once again, Israeli security forces first ordered worshippers to leave, before storming the mosque and firing stun grenades and beating people. Some fifty Palestinians are still detained after the first raid on Tuesday/Wednesday. Those who have been released are prohibited from entering Jerusalem’s Old City, including the al-Aqsa Compound, for one week.


Amnesty International spoke to several Palestinians about the violence they had faced at the hands of Israeli security forces. Shadi*, who is 17 years-old, described how Israeli police had beaten him as they dragged him out of the mosque on Wednesday morning:


“Twice I tried to raise my head and both times [the police] beat me with the butt of their guns on my head […] you are not allowed to raise your head. I was hurting all over my body from the beatings and the bruises,” Shadi said.


He was released later on Wednesday and given an expulsion order banning him from the Old City and al-Aqsa for a week. Shadi also told Amnesty International:


“Outside Atarot, I saw others […] what I went through does not even compare to the beatings that others faced.”


The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said some of their medical personnel were also attacked during Tuesday night’s raid, and that one of their ambulances was hit by rubber bullets. According to Muhammed Fityani from the organization:


“Our staff was prevented from entering the mosque’s courtyards and our work was impeded […] one of our paramedics was directly assaulted and beaten, and two of our ambulances were targeted, one [with] rubber bullets.”


Israeli forces regularly raid al-Aqsa during the month of Ramadan. An attack in 2021 left at least 170 Palestinians injured and stirred widespread protests. Following the first raid on al-Aqsa, protests broke out in several Palestinian cities and towns inside Israel. Israeli forces carried out airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and Thursday, in response to missiles fired into Israel.


© 2023 Amnesty International

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