The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns storming al-Aqsa Mosque in the old city in occupied East Jerusalem by Israeli
forces and their use of excessive force against the Palestinian civilians
staying in the mosque to confront dozens of extremist settlers, who were
preparing to storm the mosque on the eve of the Jewish holidays. Furthermore,
PCHR denounces the deliberate damage caused by Israeli forces to the contents
of al-Aqsa Mosque, including burning carpets, and smashing widows and umbrellas
that protect worshipers in summer time. PCHR also warns against the Israeli
government’s plans to apply the physical and time division of al-Aqsa Mosque.
Therefore, PCHR calls upon the international community to promptly intervene
and assume its legal and moral responsibilities to protect the Palestinian
civilians and their holy sites in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt).
PCHR believes that the silence of the international community regarding these
crimes encourages the Israeli government to continue its policies in violation
of the international humanitarian law.
According to information collected by PCHR from
the city, at approximately 05:45 on Sunday, 13 September 2015, when worshipers
finished performing the dawn (Fajr) prayer in al-Aqsa Mosque and started
getting out of the mosque, large numbers of special Israeli forces stormed al-Aqsa
Mosque firing sound bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets. Israeli forces
immediately closed the Qibli (southern) mosque while dozens of Israeli soldiers
topped the roof of the mosque. They surrounded the young men staying inside and
sprayed pepper spray over them. Officers from the special forces evacuated all
al-Aqsa Mosque’s yards. In the morning, Israeli forces smashed the windows of
al-Qibli Mosque and fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters at young men
trapped inside, due to which the carpets caught fire. Moreover, Lo’ai Abu
al-Sa’ed, one of the mosque’s guards, sustained a bullet wound to the chest;
Jad al-Ghoul, a civil defense officer in al-Aqsa Mosque, sustained a bullet
wound to the left arm; Anas Siyam (14) sustained a bullet wound to the chest;
and Lewa Abu Ermaila, a journalist at Palestine Today satellite channel, and
Sabreen Ebeidat, a photojournalist at Quds news network, both were injured by shrapnel
from a sound bomb. An eyewitness stated that Israeli forces attacked and pushed
Arab members of the Israeli Knesset, who could entered al-Aqsa Mosque, namely
Ahmed al-Tibi, Osama al-Sa’di and Talab Abu ‘Arar.
This attack coincided with banning students of
al-Aqsa Shari’a schools located inside the mosque (Riyadh al-Aqsa, al-Aqsa
School for Boys and al-Aqsa School for Girls), who are about 500 female and
male students, from entering the mosque and joining their schools. In addition,
Israeli forces denied the administrative and educational employees entry by
attacking and pushing them while being present by Hetta and al-Selsela gates.
Israeli forces have also prevented worshipers below 45 years old from entering
the mosque since the predawn.
Afterwards, groups of Israeli settlers led by
the Minister of Agriculture, Uri Ariel, stormed the mosque through al-Maghareba
gate. They performed biblical rituals in al-Hersh area near al-Rahma gate. It
should be noted that the (Temple Groups) invited their supporters through media
websites and social media to participate in the largest raid on al-Aqsa Mosque
on Sunday, coinciding with the beginning of the Jewish holidays.
PCHR strongly condemns storming al-Aqsa Mosque
and stresses that these attacks constitute integral part of the Israeli
policies and measures implemented on the ground and announced by Israeli
ministers, parties and settler leaders in the past months and years to seize
control and Judaize al-Aqsa Mosque. It also reminds the international community
that Israeli forces have been violating the rules of the 1949 Fourth Geneva
Convention, and calls upon the international community to immediately act to
stop the Israeli crimes. PCHR reiterates its call for the High Contracting
Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfil their obligations under
article 1 of the Convention to respect and to ensure respect for the present
Convention in all circumstances