Explosions as Palestine erupts in 'Day of Rage' against Israel Al-Aqsa mosque restrictions
Clashes broke out after Palestinian protesters took to the streets in a “Day of Rage” against Israel on Friday, after Israel imposed entry restrictions on the Al-Aqsa mosque – the third holiest site in Islam, and the holiest place in Judaism.
Demonstrators shouted anti-Israel slogans and hurled stones, while explosions in the vicinity of the protests were audible. Israeli forces fired rubber bullets at the protesters, who had been throwing petrol bombs, according to Reuters. Protests were also met with tear gas.
Trouble has been brewing for two weeks over the area which is known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount.
On Friday, Israel's Sephardi chief rabbi forbade the presence of Jews.
“This is the place to call on the esteemed public to stop this incitement, from here a call is heard, forbidding any Jews from going up to the Temple Mount – from here a call is heard to stop this, so that the blood of the People of Israel may stop being spilled,” he said.
At the Qalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem,
protesters were fired on by Israeli troops. The checkpoint lies
north of the Al-Aqsa mosque.
Several people were arrested for throwing rocks, an activity which could soon be punished by up to 20 years in prison if a proposed change to the Israeli penal code goes ahead.
For several decades, prayer access has been banned to Temple Mount by Israel, and only Muslims are permitted to pray there. However, Christians and Jews retain access. More right-wing Jews have been lobbying for stronger rights and unrest has spawned from right-wing Jewish activists insisting that Jews be allowed to pray at Temple Mount.
PM Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman have warned the activists to stop inflaming the situation. The Bayit Yehudi and Likud parties “only know how to light a flame and to exploit a situation for their own political gains,” Liberman said.
The shrine is currently under the administration of Muslim authorities.
In September, Israeli forces decided to only allow Palestinians over the age of 50 to enter the site. The Palestinian population feared Israel was going to restrict access to the mosque for all Muslims. That caused the latest in a series of clashes with Israeli police at the site.
“It’s a group of extreme right wingers who are really playing with fire,” Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy told RT. “It’s not only about the Palestinian community or even not the Arab states – this is about the Muslim world, and those provocateurs don’t seem to care at all.”
Protesters also took to the streets in Amman, Jordan. Jordan recalled its ambassador on Wednesday and Sheikh Hamam, head of the country’s opposition Muslim Brotherhood party, told crowds in central Amman: “Why are you keeping the embassy of the Jews? It should be demolished with everyone in it.”
The Al-Aqsa mosque, located in Jerusalem’s Old City, is the third holiest site in Islam. It sits within an enclosed compound known as the Noble Sanctuary, which also includes the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine built on the site of the sacred stone which is believed to mark the place from where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.
The Dome of the Rock is also believed by Jewish scholars to be the location of the first and second temples, both of which were destroyed – the first by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, the second by the Romans in 70 CE. Within Judaism the entire area, including Al-Aqsa, is known as Temple Mount and is equally as sacred.