Al-Haq vociferously condemns the Israeli police aggravated raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif during the holy month of Ramadan, and the brutal beatings and attacks against Palestinian worshipers ongoing for two consecutive days, since 5 April 2023. These attacks are a direct consequence of Israel’s long-enjoyed impunity reinforced by the international community’s inaction to take effective measures to end Israel’s settler-colonial apartheid regime and illegal occupation. To avoid further inflammation at the expense of the lives and rights of the Palestinian people, Al-Haq urges the international community to immediately step in and take concrete measures against Israel, including imposing sanctions, arms embargoes, and suspension of trade with Israel, beyond statements of condemnation.
The attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound since 5 April 2023 are to Facilitate Settler Raids into the Mosque Coinciding with Passover
According to Al-Haq’s preliminary monitoring, in the early hours of Wednesday 5 April 2023, the Israeli police raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for around four hours, beating Palestinian worshipers, firing gas canisters, preventing Palestinian worshipers from performing prayers and religious rituals and forcing them out of the holy site. The raid was carried out with the intention to secure settlers' upcoming raids into the mosque during the Passover Jewish holiday, which starts on April 5th. The colonial settlers had previously declared their provocative intention to storm into Al-Aqsa Mosque to perform animal sacrifices in it.
Footage from the dawn raid on 5 April 2023 at Al-Qabali Mosque, shows the Israeli police brutally assaulting and beating Palestinian worshipers, with batons, rifle ends, and chairs. Photographs also show the Israeli police tying a group of worshipers and forcing them to lie flattened on their stomachs in the mosque.
The Israeli police also raided the Al-Marwani health clinic inside Al-Aqsa Mosque, destroying its main door, vandalising the medical equipment and beds found therein, and destroying the concrete wall leading to Al-Qabali mosque to raid it.
On the same day, the Israeli police detained around 450 Palestinians, including children, the majority of whom were released the next morning, and served one-week ban orders from Al-Aqsa Mosque, subject to renewal. The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) reported that many of those released were injured, and provided medical treatment for 25 of them suffering from beatings and rubber-coated bullets, two of whom required immediate hospital treatment.
The PRCS was denied access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during the four-hour raid. Yet, they also provided medical treatment for another 12 Palestinians injured in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, three of whom were transferred to the hospital. After sunrise, the Israeli police raided Al-Aqsa Mosque once again. Footage shows the Israeli police attacking and preventing worshipers whilst praying. The Israeli police continued to force Palestinians outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, detained a few more Palestinians, and eventually secured and protected the raid of around 150 colonial settlers into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. On Wednesday evening, the same patterns of attacks continued by the Israeli police with increased provocative settlers’ presence in the compound.
The horrifying Israeli attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound could further escalate in light of the inciteful statements made by Israeli officials against Palestinians. Following the assault on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Israel’s National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, called for a security Cabinet meeting, stating that “the government of which I am a member should respond firmly to the firing of rockets from Gaza. Hamas rockets require a response beyond the bombing of sand berms and uninhabited sites. It's time for heads to roll in Gaza.”
Systemic Targeting Against Palestinian Worshipers and Holy Sites
We stress that the violent scenes for the past two consecutive days in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound are a continuation of Israel’s historical targeting of Palestinian worshipers and holy Muslim and Christian sites in Palestine, underpinned by settler-colonial ideologically driven attempts to apply sovereignty over the city of Jerusalem and the entirety of the land of historic Palestine. The attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque are aimed at eliminating Palestinian presence in Jerusalem, including by attempting to eradicate their political, social, cultural, and religious identity.
In particular, we recall Al-Aqsa Mosque Massacre in 1990, when the IOF opened fire and killed 20 Palestinians at Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in Hebron in 1994 when an Israeli settler shot and killed 29 Palestinian worshipers. The attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque for the past two days are also reminiscent of the 15 April 2021 attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, when the Israeli police brutally beat Palestinian worshipers with batons, clubs, and rifle ends, and fired sound and tear gas canisters in Al-Qabali Mosque, injuring 157 Palestinians, and detaining 400 Palestinians.
Violations of International Law
Israel’s attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque constitutes a blatant violation of international human rights law, including the absolute prohibition of “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” and the right to manifest and practice religion. Violently attacking Al-Aqsa Mosque is a further measure entrenching the ongoing annexation of the city of Jerusalem, breaching international law principles prohibiting the acquisition of territory through the use of force. The assault may also amount to persecution, a crime against humanity, clearly manifested in the widespread and systemic nature of the deprivation of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, including their freedom of religion, by reason of their collectivity and identity.
We are now witnessing signs of potential repeated Israeli mass suppression and violence against the Palestinian people, similar to the Unity Uprising in 2021, when Israel killed 276 Palestinians in May 2021, across the OPT. While Al-Haq welcomes statements by the international community condemning the vicious attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Al-Haq warns that statements without concrete actions, risk exacerbating the root causes driving daily and ongoing Israeli human rights violations and international crimes. It is time for the international community to take action to dismantle Israel’s settler-colonial apartheid regime, dismantle the military administration and oversee the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Israeli troops from the territory.