Israel marks International Women’s Day with violent assault on worshippers at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque

Israeli occupation forces violently stormed the al-Aqsa mosque compound in eastern occupied Jerusalem today as Palestinians had gathered for Friday prayers.

The above video, posted on the YouTube account FreeQudss, shows Palestinian youths attempting to ward off the massive Israeli invasion force with stones and later attempting to push them back with other projectiles including plastic furniture, pieces of wood and a molotov cocktail.

Palestinian news photographer Atta Awisat is assisted by a medic as he bleeds from his mouth during an Israeli raid on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem on 8 March (Screenshot).

Palestinian news photographer Atta Awisat was injured in the Israeli attack. Medical sources said several dozen others were hurt.

Also, at 5:37 in this video Israeli soldiers can be seen violently shoving Palestinian women.

Later in the video, worshippers can be seen continuing to pray as Israeli soldiers mill around firing sound bombs. Eventually the occupation forces retreated as worshippers chanted “God is Great.”

Twitter user @BDS4Justice, who visits the al-Aqsa compound several times a week, was there and posted tweets and images of what happened.

BDS4Justice also sent this personal account of what happened with some context:

As you know, things are charged up in the West Bank for the past few weeks. Same in Jerusalem. Samer Issawi, Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jail currently on hunger strike is a Jerusalemite from the neighborhood of Issawiya and his struggle has resonated with Palestinians in general and with Jerusalemites in particular.

During the past three Fridays there have been protests after prayers at Aqsa. Two weeks ago the Israelis invaded with their usual brutal force and as is usual an arrest campaign followed after. Two of my friends were arrested, one released and the other one remained in jail. 

To compound the tensions above, this week Israeli fanatic Knesset member Moshe Feiglin not only entered Aqsa, as he has done before, but attempted to force himself inside the Dome of the Rock

There were protests during the week against activities of Jewish extremists like Feiglin who openly call for the destruction of al-Aqsa and the building there of a Jewish Temple in its place.

Note that Israeli incursions (“visits”) to al-Aqsa are daily, under police escort, and they have become larger. This appears to be a repeat of the tactic used in Hebron to force Palestinians to give up on al-Aqsa, as is currently the case in Hebron with the Ibrahimi mosque, where Israeli settlers already control two-thirds of the building. 

After prayers today, worshippers began protests with chants against these settler provocations and incursions into al-Aqsa. As you can see from the video, the Israeli forces invaded with brutal force.

Unlike on previous occasions where people disperse, this time the clashes lasted for longer than usual. It is a sign that people are fed up by Israeli attempts to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from Jerusalem and deny their historical attachment, as the indigenous population, to the city.

Being International Women’s Day today, the Israeli army was notably brutal against women. As I witnessed and photographed, one elderly woman had a grenade thrown at her while posing no threat to the soldier. She had to receive medical attention. I also saw the Israeli army pushing other elderly worshippers and punching anyone they saw in front of them. 

Some youth were arrested and there were many injured including a journalist. 

As is common, after the al-Aqsa unrest, the Israeli army will likely begin a campaign of arrests and intimidation against the people present at the mosque today. This is the exact same harassment that Samer Issawi went through while growing up in Jerusalem motivating his fight for dignity for all Palestinians and in particular for their right to live and pray their capital, under Israeli occupation. 

Also to note, today for the first time since the second intifada the youth used Molotov cocktails against the soldiers inside Aqsa. This is an important change in tactics, it shows that they are willing to risk more for what is becoming an unsustainable situation with regular Israeli attacks and humiliation against their dignity and rights.