Israeli troops storm and encircle Aqsa Mosque
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Sunday stormed the courtyards of the Aqsa Mosque and cordoned off its premises where dozens of Palestinian worshipers are still maintaining a vigil and refusing to leave for fear of attacks by Israeli extremists.
Eyewitnesses said that more than 200 Israeli policemen have encircled the Aqsa Mosque since the early morning hours and demanded the worshipers come out, while the Palestinians inside the mosque used the amplifiers of the Mosque to urge fellow citizens to head to the Old City of occupied Jerusalem to defend it against Israeli violations.
Many unruly Israeli settlers were allowed by policemen to walk around in the Mosque courtyards.
12 Palestinian citizens including an elderly woman outside reportedly suffered tear gas suffocation as they were trying to reach the Aqsa Mosque.
Meanwhile, the neighborhoods of the Old City of Jerusalem saw clashes between young Palestinian men and Israeli troops. Numbers of protesters were reportedly rounded up.
Other Palestinian citizens living in the neighborhoods near the gates of the Aqsa Mosque complained that the IOF troops stormed and ransacked their homes, and used the roofs to observe the movement of people.
For his part, Hamas spokesman Yousuf Farahat on Sunday appealed to all Muslim scholars and leaders to urgently move to defend Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque against Israeli crimes.
In a press release, Farahat noted that the feeble official Arab stand is the umbrella under which the Israeli occupation is working and setting schemes to Judaize the whole city of Jerusalem.
In a related context, the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) announced the launch of a 30-month project to fully change the Arab landmarks and sites in the holy city.
Al-Jazeera website said that Israel claims that this project is intended for developing the infrastructure of the city, but in fact it is aimed to obliterate its Arab identity and turn it into a Jewish religious area.
For its part, the Israeli Maariv newspaper warned that the winds of war are blowing from the north and castigated the Israeli premier for his failure to control the angry protests against his decision to seize the Ibrahimi Mosque in Al-Khalil city.
It opined that if there had been negotiations with Syria, the Iranian president would not have visited Damascus and the danger of war would have subsided.