ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has condemned Israeli forces’ attack on Palestinian worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque that leftover 150 injured while hundreds were detained.
A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said, “this highly condemnable assault on worshippers, especially during the holy month of Ramadan, is an egregious violation of all humanitarian norms and human rights laws.”
In recent weeks, Israeli forces killed dozens and injured countless Palestinians in the occupied East Jerusalem and other areas, he said, adding this escalation of violence by Israeli forces in the Palestinian territories is deplorable.
He called upon the international community to take urgent steps to protect innocent Palestinian lives, and uphold international law and principles of the UN Charter.
The spokesperson reaffirmed Pakistan’s consistent and unstinted support for the Palestinian cause. “We support the Palestinian people for the realization of their right to self-determination and other fundamental rights as well as a two-State solution, in accordance with relevant UN and OIC resolutions, with the pre-1967 borders and Al Quds Al Sharif as the capital of a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian State,” he added.
According to world reports, Israeli police on Sunday entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City to secure the way for Jewish visitors to the flashpoint holy site, fuelling clashes that left 17 Palestinians wounded, according to Palestinian medical workers.
The unrest happened just two days after clashes with Palestinians at the same site. Violence in Jerusalem between Israeli security forces and Palestinian demonstrators a year ago escalated into an 11-day Gaza war.
The hilltop compound housing the mosque is the third-holiest site in Islam, while it is the holiest place for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount. The competing claims to the site have sparked numerous rounds of violence.
This year the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Christian holy week culminating in Easter Sunday and the week-long Jewish Passover are all occurring at the same time, with tens of thousands of visitors flocking to the city after coronavirus restrictions have been mostly lifted.
Israeli police accused Palestinians of “defiling and desecrating” a holy site, while Palestinian officials accused Israel of trying to divide the sensitive holy site. “What happened in Al-Aqsa Mosque is a dangerous escalation, the repercussions of which are to be borne by the Israeli government alone,” said Nabil Abu Rdeneh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Police said they entered the compound to facilitate the routine visit of Jews to the holy site. They said Palestinians had stockpiled stones and set up barriers in anticipation of violence.
Omer Barlev, the Israeli minister in charge of the police, said it was important to ensure freedom of worship “but we will not compromise when violence and terror take place.”
The police cleared Palestinians out of the sprawling esplanade outside the mosque itself early Sunday, while dozens of Palestinians remained inside the building chanting “God is Greatest.” Video released by police showed small groups of youths throwing stones.
Palestinians reported brief clashes with Israeli police just outside the mosque compound, while police said Palestinians had thrown stones at buses outside the Old City.
The Palestinian Red Crescent medical service said 17 Palestinians were wounded, including five people who were hospitalized. Israeli police reported nine arrests. By midday, witnesses said police had moved out of the compound.
Paramedics said five people riding in buses received treatment for minor injuries in the attacks.
Police released a video showing a crowd of youths pelting a passing bus with stones just outside the Old City. Another video from the police, taken inside one of the buses, showed Jewish families sitting on the floor of the vehicle as it continued on its way.
Jordan, which serves as custodian of the holy site, issued a statement condemning Israel’s actions, saying they undermine “all efforts made to maintain the comprehensive calm and prevent the escalation of violence that threatens security and peace.”