Middle East Eye reports:
Israeli police attacked Palestinian worshippers inside occupied East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa compound after they finished performing the Islamic dawn prayer on Friday, Wafa news reported.
Last week, Palestinians launched the “Great Fajr Campaign”, calling on people to pray at dawn, fajr in Arabic, in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank. The two mosques are flashpoint sites between Palestinians and Israeli settlers. Jewish prayer is forbidden in the Al-Aqsa compound, which Jews believe is the site of the Second Jewish Temple destroyed in antiquity, though they often controversially flout the regulations.
Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque, meanwhile, was divided to accommodate Jewish worship following a 1992 massacre that saw an Israeli settler murder 29 Muslim worshippers.
Despite the harsh winter and rain, hundreds of Palestinians have been going daily to perform the dawn prayer, one of the five daily prayers in Islam, just after 5am in the morning. This is to show their devotion to the holy places and highlight their rejection of Israeli settler presence, according to the campaign.
Israel’s Channel 12 said Israeli forces in Jerusalem were surprised by the number of Palestinian worshippers who came to Al-Aqsa. Israel’s police spokesperson said “hundreds of worshippers marched in protest, during which they chanted national slogans and violated the order in place”. Bab Huta Street, which leads through Jerusalem’s Old City to the Al-Aqsa compound, was packed with Palestinians despite the rainy weather.
Tens of Israeli police stormed the compound after some Palestinian worshippers started to chant “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is Great), Wafa reported.