Israeli forces shoot Palestinian in al-Aqsa Mosque

Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian man in al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem on Friday.

Local media said the young man had been beaten after clashing with Israeli forces stationed at the Chain Gate (Bab al-Silsela) when they allegedly attacked a Palestinian woman who was trying to re-enter the mosque.

Israeli police said in a statement that a man tried to grab a soldier’s weapon and was shot and later “neutralized”. His condition was not immediately clear.

Eyewitnesses said 20 shots were heard fired in less than a minute, leaving one man wounded as he lay on the floor near the Chain Gate.

Israeli forces had closed the gates of the mosque after thousands of worshipers left the complex after the Ramadan Tarawih night prayer. Police prevented anyone from returning to continue overnight prayers, according to Palestinian media.

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Footage shared online showed a man lying on the floor near the Chain Gate with Israeli officers standing nearby.

MEE could not independently verify the videos.

An eyewitness who stayed with a small group of worshipers inside al-Aqsa Mosque told local news outlet Al Jarmaq News that they heard the gunshots.

He added that Israeli forces entered the mosque’s courtyard to remove banners erected by worshipers earlier in the day after the Friday midday prayer.

Crowds chanted slogans after the prayer and held up signs in support of Palestinian resistance groups.

The mosque was packed with nearly 250,000 Palestinians who came to the site for the second Friday prayer of Ramadan, according to figures provided by the mosque’s administration. It is almost four times the number of worshipers who attend the prayer on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces deployed more than 2,000 officers in the city and restricted movement and access to the site.

The increased security comes ahead of Passover, which begins on April 5 and lasts for a week.

Israeli residents are set to storm the mosque to mark the holiday at a time when Palestinians observing the holy month of Ramadan usually fill the area. Some settlers have asked the authorities to allow them to perform ritual animal slaughter in the mosque’s courtyard, which risks inciting the Palestinians.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam and an area where non-Muslim prayers and rituals are prohibited according to decades of international agreements.

The sensitive arrangement has long been violated by Israeli groups, in cooperation with the police, and they have facilitated unsolicited visits to the site and performed prayers and religious rituals.

Israel’s control of East Jerusalem, including the Old City, violates several principles under international law, which state that an occupying power does not have sovereignty over the territory it occupies and cannot make any permanent changes there.

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