Israel/Gaza WarMiddle East

Israeli police Beats hundreds of worshippers entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque, forcing worshippers to pray outside

Israeli police barred hundreds of worshippers from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday evening, as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began.

Some Palestinians who tried to enter the mosque compound – the third holiest site in Islam – were beaten while a large Israeli police force prevented hundreds from passing, only allowing in women and men aged over 40.

Those who were barred from entering were forced to pray outside the grounds of the religious compound.

Ramadan began on Sunday evening for some Muslims around the world, and throughout the holy fasting month many attended mosques at night for voluntary prayers known as ‘taraweeh’.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warned on Monday that restrictions imposed by Israel on Muslim worshippers’ access to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound was pushing the situation towards an “explosion”.

In remarks on state media, Safadi said his country rejected Israel’s announced move to limit access to the holy site during Ramadan, citing security needs with its ongoing war on Gaza.

Jordan echoes the Palestinian view that such restrictions were an attack on freedom of worship, he said.

Israeli attacks in Ramadan

Israeli forces and extremists have regularly attacked Palestinian worshippers at Al-Aqsa during Ramadan in previous years and raided the site at other times.

After some confusion last month when extremist National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir demanded tight restrictions on worshippers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the numbers admitted would be similar to last year, without specifying.

According to local media reports on Sunday, Netanyahu says a decision on whether to storm Al-Aqsa during Ramadan must only be taken by him, as per an agreement reached with the army and internal security services, Shin Bet.

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