Islamic Relief is appalled that Palestinian worshippers have yet again been injured by Israeli forces at Al Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, during Ramadan.
Israeli forces entered the site just before dawn today (Wednesday), with eyewitnesses reporting they fired rubber bullets and stun grenades, and beat worshippers including women. Hundreds of Palestinians have reportedly been arrested and more than a dozen injured. The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that its medics were prevented from accessing Al Aqsa to treat the wounded. Rockets were later fired from Gaza into Israel, with no injuries reported so far, and an Israeli airstrike hit Gaza.
The arrests and injuries at Al Aqsa come as violence against civilians has escalated across the Occupied Palestinian Territory this year. At least 88 Palestinians, including around 17 children, and 15 Israelis are reported to have been killed in the first quarter of this year, with hundreds more Palestinians injured.
Islamic Relief strongly condemns all attacks on civilians and is calling for a lasting solution rooted in justice and international law, including an end to the Israeli occupation. We condemn any attacks on places of worship and call for an end to attacks against religious sites.
Mohammed Afsar, Islamic Relief’s interim head of the Middle East region, says:
“It is truly appalling for people to be beaten and tear gassed at one of the holiest sites in Islam, especially during Ramadan. The right of people to worship freely and safely must be upheld. This has become a regular occurrence every Ramadan and must end.
“We are extremely worried about any further escalation in violence in the region, which would inevitably increase civilian casualties. To achieve lasting peace for everyone, there must be an end to the occupation and the deep-rooted injustices that Palestinians face on a daily basis.”
Islamic Relief has worked in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1997 and currently has an office in Gaza where we work with local partners to provide aid including food, water, and support to small businesses, schools and youth.