Israeli police raided East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for a second consecutive day, triggering clashes and more rocket launches from Gaza towards southern Israel, Israeli and Palestinian sources said on Thursday.
At least six people were reported injured, according to a statement by the Palestinian Red Crescent.
In charge of the sensitive compound, the Islamic Waqf reported that police used stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the worshippers.
The official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that the police stormed the compound while nearly 20,000 worshippers were still performing the Ramadan Taraweeh night prayer.
Israel’s police said in a statement that “dozens of law-breaking youths” attempted to barricade themselves inside the mosque to incite riots.
According to the statement, the forces broke in after the youths attempted to close the mosque’s doors. “The lawbreakers began shouting incitement calls, firing firecrackers, and throwing objects at the police officers who were operating at the scene,” the statement read.
The Israeli raids drew condemnations from across the Muslim world and the United Nations.
The violence broke out during a sensitive holiday time when tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers observe the holy month of Ramadan through prayers at the hilltop compound. Below the compound, scores of Jewish pilgrims commemorate the Passover holiday with prayers at the Western Wall.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is located in East Jerusalem, the third holiest site for Muslims and the most sacred place for Jews. The site is located in East Jerusalem’s Old City, a territory Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war along the rest of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.