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Israel troops storm Al Aqsa Mosque for second night targeting Palestinians

Israeli troops have stormed Al Aqsa Mosque compound for a straight night, attacking Palestinian worshippers inside, hours after raiding Islam’s third-holiest site, which sparked global criticism.

The unrest was less intense than the previous night. But the situation remained combustible as Muslims marked the Ramadan holy month and Jews began the weeklong Passover holiday.

Witnesses told Anadolu Agency that the Israeli forces late on Wednesday raided the Al Qibli Prayer Hall in the Al Aqsa Mosque complex after the tarawih prayers, a special prayer during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, fired stun grenades and beat up Palestinian worshippers.

More Palestinians had gathered in the mosque, responding to calls to pray inside overnight.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society in occupied East Jerusalem said its medical teams treated six Palestinians, two of whom were hospitalised.

Israeli police tried to evacuate worshippers, using stun grenades and firing rubber bullets, Waqf staff said.  In response, worshippers threw objects at Israeli police, witnesses said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Israeli troops mercilessly beat up protesters, arrested and removed more than 350 people in a police incursion at the mosque, sparking an exchange of rockets and air strikes, with fears of further escalation.

Palestinian witness Abdel Karim Ikraiem, 74, said that Israeli police armed with batons, tear gas grenades and smoke bombs, burst into the mosque “by force” and “beat the women and men” worshipping there.

One video widely circulated on social media showed police clubbing people on the floor inside the mosque.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said it had treated 37 people, including some after their release from custody.

Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir voiced “complete backing” for police and their “swift and determined” actions.

‘Al Aqsa Mosque is our red line’

The Israeli actions sparked global criticism and concern.

Türkiye denounced the Israeli violence, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying Israel had crossed a “red line”.

“Trampling on the Al Aqsa Mosque is our red line,” he said, adding “We will continue to stand by our Palestinian brothers and sisters and protect our sanctities under all circumstances.”

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres was “shocked and appalled” by images he saw of Israeli security forces beating people at the mosque, particularly because it came at a time holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims that should be a period of peace, his spokesperson said.

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said the US was “extremely concerned by the continuing violence and we urge all sides to avoid further escalation”.

Violence emanating from decades of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands has intensified since the new government of veteran Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took power in December, a coalition with extreme right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties.

So far this year, the Israeli occupation has claimed the lives of at least 91 Palestinians, 15 Israelis and one Ukrainian.

Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It vacated from Gaza in 2005 and has since imposed a harsh blockade from land, air and sea on the tiny Palestinian enclave.

Over 700,000 illegal Israeli settlers now live in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem.

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