Israeli forces on Tuesday stormed the Al-Qibali Mosque in Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, according to a Palestinian official.
“At least ten Israeli officers stormed the Al-Qibali Mosque after assaulting three guards,” Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for Jerusalem’s Jordan-run Religious Endowments Authority (tasked with overseeing East Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites), said in a statement.
According to al-Dibs, Israeli police also arrested two Palestinians from inside the mosque compound’s Al-Rahmah Gate, which leads to the mosque of the same name.
In 2003, Israeli authorities closed the Bab al-Rahma Mosque. In 2017, an Israeli court renewed the closure order.
Tension has mounted in Jerusalem since February, when Israeli police briefly sealed the Al-Rahma Gate (located adjacent to the eastern wall of Jerusalem’s Old City) — a move that sparked angry Palestinian demonstrations at the time.
In the two months since, the Israeli authorities have banned scores of Palestinians — including religious officials — from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, which Muslims regard as the world’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the territory in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.