- Created: Friday, 25 August 2017 11:01
- Written by Wesam Khaled
The Al Aqsa mosque in illegally-occupied East Jerusalem was at the heart of a recent surge of Palestinian resistance against the Zionist state. After a shootout on 14 July near the Al Aqsa compound between Palestinians and Israeli police that saw three Palestinians and two police officers killed, Israel installed new security measures to monitor Palestinians accessing the mosque, including metal detectors and security cameras. The move was widely seen by Palestinians as an attempt by Israel to further its aim of wresting the Al Aqsa mosque from Palestinian control; Israeli political and religious leaders regularly call for the mosque to be destroyed and replaced with a Jewish temple.
In response, Palestinians in East Jerusalem rose up and organised a campaign of civil disobedience, staging sit-ins and prayers in front of the gate to the Al Aqsa compound and refusing to enter until Israel acceded to their demand to have the metal detectors removed. The Israeli government initially refused and attempted to suppress the protests by force. Tens of Palestinians, including children, were arrested in overnight raids and demonstrators in East Jerusalem were fired on with tear gas, sound bombs, and rubber-coated bullets. Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, which is separated from Jerusalem by an illegal Israeli-imposed border, also protested against the Israeli measures. The Red Cross reported that over 400 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including many by live fire. There were also demonstrations in the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that over 20 Palestinians including six medics suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation as a result of Israeli attempts to disperse them. Three Palestinians protesters were shot dead by Israeli forces: 18-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Sharaf; 20-year-old Muhammad Abu Ghannam; and 17-year old Muhammad Khalaf Mahmoud Khalaf Lafi. Three Israeli settlers in the illegal settlement of Halamish in the West Bank were also killed.