150,000 Palestinians throng al-Aqsa Mosque; Israel to close only Gaza crossing

150,000 Palestinians throng al-Aqsa Mosque; Israel to close only Gaza crossing

Israeli authorities have announced plans to close the only crossing for Palestinian workers coming from the Gaza Strip over alleged rocket attacks from the besieged coastal enclave.

The move comes amid soaring tensions after a spate of violent raids by the occupying forces on Palestinians in the al-Aqsa Mosque compound during the holy month of Ramadan.

The closure of the Erez crossing was announced by COGAT, the Israeli regime’s military body responsible for civilian affairs in the occupied territories, and is expected to take effect on Sunday.

The regime claims that the Gaza-based Palestinian resistance movement Hamas fired three rockets into Israel late on Friday.

“Following the rockets fired…from the Gaza Strip last night, it was decided that crossings into Israel for Gazan merchants and workers through the Erez Crossing will not be permitted this upcoming Sunday,” COGAT said in a statement on Saturday.

The occupying regime said a decision to reopen the crossing to Palestinian workers and traders would be reviewed based on the situation.
The Gaza Strip, home to some two million people, has been under a crippling blockade imposed by the Tel Aviv regime in June 2007.

In recent years, the enclave has received its bare essentials through a few crossings, which includes Erez. The Erez crossing, which is the only Israeli pedestrian crossing into the Gaza Strip, is situated along the northern part of the coastal area and is used for the movement of humanitarian aid into the territory.

The Israeli regime has routinely closed the crossing, banning the entry of humanitarian supplies and other goods into the besieged territory.

150,000 Palestinians throng al-Aqsa Mosque

At least 150,000 Palestinians have thronged al-Aqsa Mosque in the occupied Old City of al-Quds to attend Friday prayers amid heightened tensions over Israeli raids.

Officials from the Islamic Waqf department, which is in charge of the al-Aqsa Mosque, said about 150,000 people, mostly Palestinians from the al-Quds, the West Bank, and the Israeli occupied territories, offered prayers at the mosque compound defying restrictions imposed on the entry of worshipers to the holy site.

Palestine's official Wafa news agency said Israeli occupation forces barricaded multiple roads and alleys leading to the Old City of al-Quds, forcing Palestinians to take longer routes to reach the mosque.

Israeli forces also deployed large numbers of troops at the gates leading to the holy site, inspecting the identity cards of worshipers and subjecting them to body frisking.

The news agency said thousands of Palestinians prayed at Israeli checkpoints leading to the Old City of al-Quds from the occupied West Bank after being blocked from entering the holy city.

Palestinian worshipers are seen during Friday prayers at the compound of the al-Aqsa Mosque in the occupied Old City of al-Qud on April 22, 2022. (Photo by Palestine's official Wafa news agency)

Earlier in the day, Israeli forces raided the mosque after dawn prayers and fired rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades and tear gas at the Palestinian worshipers at the Dome of the Rock inside the compound.

Wafa cited the Palestinian Red Crescent as saying that at least 31 worshipers were injured in the gruesome attack while many others suffered suffocation from tear gas inhalation.

It said two of the injured people were critical, while 11 others had been transferred to the hospital.

Tensions between the two sides have witnessed a sharp rise since the beginning of Ramadan, with Israeli forces stepping up raids of al-Aqsa Mosque, assaulting Muslim worshipers inside prayer halls, and providing protection to the Israeli settlers desecrating Islam’s third holiest site.

The Israeli regime’s crimes have sparked widespread condemnation from Muslim countries as well as warnings for an outbreak of a new war with Gaza.

Dozens injured in fresh raid by Israeli forces on al-Aqsa Mosque

UN seeks probe into Israel’s use of force at al-Aqsa

The United Nations has expressed deep concern over the worsening security situation in the occupied Palestinian territories following a spate of deadly Israeli raids on the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

“We are deeply concerned by the escalating violence in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel over the past month,” Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said Friday.

“The use of force by Israeli forces resulting in widespread injuries among worshippers and staff in and around the al-Aqsa Mosque compound must be promptly, impartially, independently, and transparently investigated,” she noted.

Shamdasani asserted that those responsible for any violations should be “held to account”, and that policies and procedures on the use of force be “reviewed with a view to avoid any further violations”.

Hamas calls for mass mobilization to confront Israel, defend al-Aqsa Mosque

Meanwhile, in a statement issued on Friday, the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas said all Palestinians must mobilize to confront the Israeli occupation and colonial settlers and to head to the al-Aqsa Mosque in the occupied Old City of al-Quds despite intensified Israeli assaults.

The movement said the Palestinian people should stay at the mosque throughout the last ten days of the holy month of Ramadan to defend al-Quds, the mosque, and the Palestinian worshipers there.

In May last year, frequent acts of violence against Palestinian worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque led to an 11-day war between Palestinian resistance groups in the besieged Gaza Strip and the Israeli regime, during which the regime forces killed at least 260 Palestinians, including 66 children.

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