Israeli occupation forces on Thursday attacked the al-Qibli prayer hall at the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site for Muslims, and fired sound grenades and rubber bullets toward the Palestinian worshipers, amid rising tensions in the run-up to the 74th anniversary of Nakba Day (Catastrophe Day).
The Nakba Day refers to the occasion when the Israeli entity proclaimed existence in the occupied Palestinian territories in mid-May 1948 and drove hundreds of thousands of Palestinians out of their homeland. Israelis celebrate the occasion on May 4-5 this year.
Nakba Day is set as May 15 every year, but Israelis celebrate what they call their Independence Day in accordance with the Hebrew calendar. Since the Gregorian and Hebrew calendars do not correspond, the two events may fall days apart in any given year.
The Israeli forces assaulted and chased Muslim worshipers to make way for settlers to enter the holy site after smashing one of its gates.
The fresh scuffles broke out after the flashpoint al-Quds holy site was reopened to Israeli visitors.
According to Palestinian media reports, Israeli forces used tear gas to disperse Palestinians at the site. At least 12 worshipers were injured while dozens suffocated from the tear gas.
The Israeli police arrested one of the Palestinian worshipers sheltered inside the mosque itself and took him to an unknown place.
Meanwhile, far-right Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir entered the al-Aqsa Mosque. During a speech, he called for the regime to change the status quo of the holy site by constructing Jewish synagogues and temples there.
Also on Thursday, a spokesman for the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement, based in Gaza, hailed fellow Palestinians for their heroic steadfastness in facing Israeli military forces at the al-Aqsa Mosque, saying their “great bravery” will thwart the conspiracies of the occupiers.
Hazem Qassem said the fear and anxiety that have filled the Zionist regime’s institutions and settlers show their defeat in the face of the Palestinian nation’s will and resistance.
He emphasized that al-Aqsa was and will remain a holy Islamic, Arab and Palestinian site.
Israel’s relentless raids on Aqsa drew a strong warning from Hamas on Wednesday.
In a statement, Jasser al-Barghouti, head of Hamas’ national relations office in the West Bank, warned the Tel Aviv regime against crossing “red lines” at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Hamas also cautioned the regime against “playing with fire and dragging the region into an escalation for which the occupation bears full responsibility.”
Israel sharply escalated its deadly attacks against Palestinians in the run-up to the month of Ramadan and sustained the violence throughout the fasting month.
A similar wave of tensions in May 2021 led to a full-scale war between Gaza and Israel. Shocked by the significantly developed military capabilities of Palestinian resistance groups, the regime was forced to announce a unilateral ceasefire.
Back then, the humiliation promoted the Israeli minister for military affairs to step down, further destabilizing the already shaky coalition administration in Tel Aviv.