Muslims in the holy city of Jerusalem exceptionally delayed for one hour prayers of the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, hoping to convince the Israeli police to ban Jews from entering Al-Aqsa mosque on August 11th, 2019.
The delay of the prayers was accompanied by three other exceptional measures, which included the closing of small mosques in East Jerusalem in order to bring as many Muslims as possible to Al-Aqsa. Moreover, the sacrifices were delayed to the second day of the holiday and Jerusalemite families received Eid greetings in the mosque itself and not in their houses.
For the first part of the day, the plan succeeded, but hours later the situation, particularly in the mosque, turned out to be very difficult.
Firas Dibs, spokesperson for the Islamic Waqf in Jerusalem, told 7dnews that more than 100,000 worshippers had attended the Eid prayers in the mosque. But as the worshippers were greeting each other, the Israeli police opened the Mughrabi gate in the Western wall of the mosque allowing Jews to enter.
The police used to close the mosque to Jews during Islamic holidays since a movement began unilaterally in 2003 to "storm" the mosque, as the Islamic Waqf in Jerusalem calls it.
Israeli right wing groups called on the police to allow Jews to enter this year, because the Eid comes at a time, when Jews are also observing the Ninth of Av to "mourn the destruction of the Jewish temples in Jerusalem."
Earlier in the week, the police said it would take a decision after evaluating the situation in the mosque. Taking into account the huge presence of Muslims in the mosque, the police decided not to allow Jews in, as they declared in a statement. This police decision represented a moment of joy for Muslims but it didn't last long.
Hundreds of Muslims gathered outside the Mughrabi gate shouting "God is the Greatest,” and "With our souls and blood we defend Al-Aqsa," to pressure the police to re-close the door after opening it.
The Israeli police had taken control of the Mughrabi Gate keys in 1996 and until now it remains under their control, in contrast to the other nine opened doors, which are under the control of the Islamic Waqf.
The decision to prevent Jews from entering created uproar in Israel, with PM Benjamin Netanyahu declaring that he had nothing to do with it, while extreme right wing leaders called it a "surrendering and shame" decision, according to the Israeli broadcasting authority, KAN.
With tensions high between the Muslims and the police, clashes erupted. Dozens of stun grenades were thrown with clouds of tear gas spreading over the area.
Atta Jaber, a spokesperson for the Palestine Red Crescent, said in a statement sent to 7dnews that 61 worshippers were injured, including 16 who were moved to the hospital for treatment, while the rest were treated in the field.
Eyewitnesses told 7dnews that five Palestinians were arrested by the Israeli police. On its side, the Israeli police said that four of its members were injured in the incidents.
In the meantime, the Israeli police said in a statement that after a security evaluation, it allowed the Jews in.
Dibs told 7dnews that the police allowed "1336 extremists to storm the mosque in a blatant attack against the sanctity of the mosque on the first day of Eid al-Adha." The Israeli ministry of internal security said in a statement that 1729 Jews were allowed in, compared with 1440 last year.
The incidents outraged the Palestinians. Fadi Hidmi, Palestinian Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, told 7dnews, "the crime that took place in Al Aqsa is very dangerous, Palestinians were attacked in their holy place on one of the holiest Islamic days." Hidmi added "We call upon the international community to hold Israel accountable for its actions."
The Palestinian presidential spokesperson, Nabil Abu Rdainah, said, "We hold the Israeli government responsible for breaking into Al-Aqsa Mosque and attacking worshippers, which is a major provocation against the feelings of Muslims." He added in a statement that such attacks "drag the region to the square of violence." Abu Rdainah warned "the Israeli government against continuing to allow settlers to carry out these crimes."
Senior Palestinian official, Saeb Erekat, tweeted, "Just imagine what could have been the world's reaction if worshippers of any faith were harassed as were Palestinian worshippers this morning in Al-Aqsa mosque?"