ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday condemned a fresh raid by Israeli forces on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, its foreign office said, which wounded over 40 Palestinians on Jumatul Widah.
Israeli police officers entered the site at dawn on Jumatul Widah, the last Friday of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. They later released footage that showed young men on the compound hurling stones in Friday’s early hours.
The Palestinian Red Crescent, which gave the toll, said no one was seriously hurt but 22 people were taken to hospital. An AFP journalist said Israeli police fired rubber-coated bullets while a witness said they also used tear gas.
“The indiscriminate use of force by Israeli occupation forces against defenseless Palestinians defies all humanitarian norms and human rights laws. Such attacks, in addition to causing injury to the Palestinians, violate the sanctity of Islamic holy sites,” the Pakistani foreign office said in a statement.
“Pakistan calls upon the international community to take urgent action to put an end to the Israeli violations, which continue to fuel violence, tension and instability in the region, and remain a matter of grave concern for the entire Muslim world.”
Over the past two weeks, nearly 300 Palestinians have been hurt in clashes at the Al-Aqsa compound, Islam’s third-holiest site. It is also Judaism’s holiest place, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
The site is located in east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed, in a move not recognized by most of the international community.
Israel’s incursions into the compound during Ramadan met widespread condemnation and raised fears of inflaming persistent Israeli-Palestinian tensions across Jerusalem.
“We reaffirm our consistent and unstinted support for the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause, which has always been a defining principle of Pakistan’s foreign policy,” Islamabad said in the statement.
“We renew our call for a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian State, with pre-1967 borders, and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital being the only just, comprehensive and lasting solution of the Palestinian question, in accordance with the relevant United Nations and OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) resolutions.”
In an apparent attempt to ease tensions, Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has stressed that the government is committed to the status quo at the compound, meaning an adherence to long-standing convention that only Muslims are allowed to pray there.
Jews are allowed to visit the Temple Mount.
Muslim leaders have, however, been angered by a recent uptick in such visits. Some voiced fears that Israel was seeking to divide the compound and create a space where Jews may worship. Lapid told journalists that no such plan exists.
The fresh unrest comes as the end of Ramadan nears early next week.
Violence in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem has raised fears of another armed conflict similar to an 11-day war last year between Israel and Hamas, triggered in part by similar unrest at Al-Aqsa.