IDF, Palestinians clash at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem
Prominent Israeli right-wing organizations have urged Jews to flock to Al-Aqsa Mosque during Passover in what many worshipers consider a provocation, according to Ma'an. (AFP/File)
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Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday morning, attacking worshipers with stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets as Muslim worshipers braced for raids by right-wing Jewish groups as Passover approaches.
Director of Al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani told Ma'an that more than 50 Israeli "special forces" stormed the compound through the Moroccan Gate and the Chain Gate during the raid.
Al-Kiswani added that Israeli forces "besieged" Muslim worshipers with rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades and closed the Chain Gate.
One of the Al-Aqsa compound security guards, later identified as Amjad al-Alami, was struck by a rubber-coated bullet during the raid.
In addition, five worshipers were hurt by pepper spray used by Israeli officers during the assault.
Israeli forces had arrived in the early morning and stationed themselves near the Moroccan gate witnesses told Ma'an.
Israeli police officers stationed at all of the gates of the compound "strictly inspected" all Muslims who attempted to access the compound, witnesses said.
Many young men were denied entry while the identity cards of others, including elderly men and women, were taken before they were allowed to enter the compound.
Eyewitnesses said a young Palestinian man was detained inside the compound and another one was assaulted by Israeli officers.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement that "stones" had been thrown at police at "units" had entered the area in order to "disperse Arab rioters."
"Two police officers injured lightly during riots," he added, noting that they were "being treated at the scene."
Dozens of Muslims had spent the night in the compound in anticipation of raids by right-wing Jewish groups, who they expect to enter the compound on the occasion of Passover.
Prominent Israeli right-wing organizations have urged Jews to flock to Al-Aqsa Mosque during Passover in what many worshipers consider a provocation.