Several worshippers have been injured after an attack by colonial forces at the al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem.
Around 400 Israeli settlers entered the compound at al-Aqsa and were escorted by dozens of Israeli police officers for a “tour” of the site. Given that the al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam and worshippers are observing the closing days of the holy month of Ramadan, there is no other way to see the intrusion than a deliberate provocation.
The intruders were led by American-born rabbi and right-wing activist Yehuda Glick who is currently a member of the Knesset for Likud. He is a known agitator at the al-Aqsa compound, with the Israeli police themselves stating in 2014 that “allowing Glick on the site posed a threat to public order”. Just a year later, a court in Jerusalem banned Glick from entering the compound at all. The judge ruled that Glick’s presence was inflammatory, and that, “there is a risk of violence breaking out if the respondent returns to the compound before the end of legal proceedings in his case”.
The intrusion by the well known Glick and 400 more settlers led, of course, to a protest by worshippers at the Mosque and scuffles with police. Police are said to have physically attacked the protestors and made a number of arrests, chasing others through the compound and attacking them with teargas and stun grenades.
Israeli police were undoubtedly well aware of Glick’s history at al-Aqsa as well as their normal practice of restricting access to Jewish worshippers during the last 10 days of the holy month of Ramadan, a time when tens of thousands of Muslims assemble at the holy site for worship.
Allowing Glick and 400 settlers to enter the compound will have been known to provoke a reaction and some reports have suggested that the Israeli far-right had been calling on supporters to organize such visits to mark the “reunification” of Jerusalem on Jerusalem Day, a national holiday where Israelis celebrate the anniversary of their occupation of East Jerusalem at the end of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.