Friday prayers: Israeli forces raid Al-Aqsa, over 60 Palestinians injured

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Israeli police have raided the Al-Aqsa Masjid in occupied East Jerusalem, with medics saying at least 67 Palestinians have been injured in violence that followed before dawn on Friday, reported Al Jazeera.

The Islamic endowment that runs the site said Israeli police entered in force before dawn, as thousands of worshippers were gathered at the Masjid for early morning prayers.

Videos circulating online showed Palestinians throwing rocks and police firing tear gas and stun grenades. Others showed worshippers barricading themselves inside the Masjid amid what appeared to be clouds of tear gas.

The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said it evacuated at least 67 wounded people to hospitals.

The endowment said one of the guards at the site was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, Israeli forces hindered the arrival of ambulances and paramedics from reaching the Masjid, as Palestinian media said that dozens of injured worshippers remained trapped inside the compound.

Israeli police said they entered the compound, the third holiest site in Islam and revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, to break up a “violent” crowd that remained at the end of the morning prayers.

They said they went in “to disperse and push back” the crowd after a group of Palestinians began throwing rocks towards the nearby Jewish prayer space of the Western Wall.

Reporting from Damascus Gate, Al Jazeera’s Najwan al-Samri said Israeli police forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound without pretext and assaulted worshipers near the Qibly prayer hall following the morning prayer.

She added that the escalation came as far-right Jewish groups called or organising mass stormings of Al-Aqsa Mosque during the Jewish Passover holiday and to offer animal sacrifices in its courtyards.

Tensions have escalated in recent weeks. Israel has been carrying out arrests and military raids in the illegally occupied West Bank, in the wake of a series of deadly attacks by Palestinians inside Israel, setting off clashes in which several Palestinians have been killed, including seven since Wednesday.

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