Israeli police have raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, with medics reporting at least 158 Palestinians injured.
Israeli forces entered in force before dawn on Friday, as thousands of worshippers were gathered at the mosque for early morning prayers.
The Palestinian Red Crescent added that Israeli forces had hindered the arrival of ambulances and paramedics to the mosque, as Palestinian media said dozens of injured worshippers remained trapped inside the compound.
Israeli police said they arrested at least 300 Palestinians during the latest escalation. However, Palestinian sources put the number at 400.
Israeli police said they entered the compound, the third holiest site in Islam and revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, to break up a “violent” crowd that remained at the end of the morning prayers.They said they went in “to disperse and push back” the crowd after a group of Palestinians began throwing rocks towards the nearby Jewish prayer space of the Western Wall.
But Palestinian cameraman, Rami al-Khatib, who witnessed the raid, said: ”They [Israeli forces] brutally emptied the compound. They were attacking the mosque staff, normal people, elders, young people, reports Aljazeera.
“There were many injured people, they fired rubber bullets inside Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. They were beating everyone, even the paramedics, they hit them,” said al-Khatib, who too was injured.
Reporting from Damascus Gate, Al Jazeera’s Najwan al-Samri said Israeli police stormed the mosque compound without pretext and assaulted worshippers near the Qibly prayer hall following the morning prayer.
Tensions have escalated in recent weeks. Israel has been carrying out arrests and military raids in the illegally occupied West Bank.