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At least 100 Palestinians detained from Al-Aqsa Mosque amid clashes

July 28, 2017 10:44 A.M. (Updated: July 28, 2017 3:31 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- At least 100 Palestinian worshipers were detained from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem on Thursday night and transferred to Israel’s Russian Compound detention center in Jerusalem, just hours after the compound was fully reopened after nearly two weeks.

Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Committee Issa Qaraqe said in statement that Israeli authorities detained 100 worshipers from the compound, and that 21 of the detainees would be presented in front of Israel’s Jerusalem magistrate court on Friday morning, while the remaining 79 were released.

Qaraqe pointed out that a lawyer of the committee, Muhammad Mahmoud, was among those detained until the dawn hours of Friday morning.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that as sunset Maghreb prayers ended on Thursday and worshipers began to part, "dozens of youths remained inside the Mosque refusing to obey Israeli police’s orders to leave the compound, as usually happens after prayers."

According to al-Samri, officials of the Islamic endowment, or Waqf, that manages the site, attempt to "convince and talk" to the youth several times but to no avail.

"The Israeli police also attempted to do so by calling them via speakers to obey the police’s orders and leave the mosque, however, they refused to obey," al-Samri said, adding that Israeli forces then entered the Mosquw where the youth had shut themselves inside, and detained "several suspects for disrupting order," at which point clashes erupted between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces.

The Palestinian Red Crescent released a statement at the time saying that its crews had provided at least 94 worshipers with medical care during clashes. According to the group, some worshipers were treated for rubber-coated steel bullet injuries and tear gas inhalation, while others were physically assaulted and pepper sprayed by Israeli forces.

The clashes came just hours after Israeli forces reopened all the gates to the compound on Thursday afternoon, in what was celebrated as a victory by Palestinian Jerusalemites who had been participating in a 13-day long civil disobedience campaign against Israeli-imposed security measures at the holy site.

Following a deadly shooting at Al-Aqsa on July 14, Israeli authorities installed metal detectors, turnstiles, and cameras at the entrances to the compound, while most of the entrances to the compound remained closed.

The measures sparked widespread protests in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, as Palestinians said the Israeli move was the latest example of Israeli authorities using Israeli-Palestinian violence as a means of furthering control over important sites in the occupied Palestinian territory and normalizing repressive measures against Palestinians.
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