Palestine: Day after clashes, thousands gather at Al-Aqsa for Laylat al-Qadr

Hyderabad: A day after Israeli security personnel clashed with Palestinian Muslims and injured close to 200 people at the Al-Aqsa mosque, tens of thousands of Palestine citizens made their way to the mosque for the ‘Laylat al-Qadr’ on Saturday night.

Israeli police had set up checkpoints outside Jerusalem in an attempt to stop Palestinians from travelling to the Old City. Those who were stopped on the road continued on foot, with footage of scores of Palestinians resolutely walking to Jerusalem circulating widely online. 

Despite the brutalities and crackdowns, some 90,000 Palestinian worshippers reportedly made their way to the holy mosque to mark ‘Laylat Al-Qadr’, one of the holiest nights in Islam in the month of Ramzan. 

Violence instigated by Israeli forces 

According to Middle East Eye, the prayers were conducted safely, after which Israeli forces began cracking down on Palestinians going out of the Old city. Many were reportedly arrested, and 90 persons have been reported to be wounded. 

The Damascus Gate, which was adorned with lights to mark the holy month of Ramzan, was fired at with rubber coated metal bullets, tear gas and smoke grenades.  A short distance away from the Damascus Gate, Israeli forces and settlers (Jewish Israeli citizens who have shifted to Palestinian areas) tore up a protest camp in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where peaceful demonstrations against illegal mass evictions have been taking place. 

This happened just a day after more than 200 people were injured in an attack on the Holy Mosque on Friday night. Israel occupied East Jerusalem (Palestine), where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognised by the international community. Ever since 1980, Israeli forces have been trying one way or the other to push deeper into the West Bank and occupy the entire region 

The Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in Palestine has witnessed tensions and chaos the entire week. Around 40 Palestinians, including 10 children are threatened with eviction as Jewish settlers seek to take over their homes.

Last Sunday, the Israeli Supreme Court gave four Palestinian families from Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood until Thursday to reach a deal with Jewish settlers regarding the ownership of their homes.(Al Jazeera). The Palestinian families allege that it is a move to force them out and replace the neighbourhood with a Jewish population. 

Earlier the Jerusalem District Court ruled that at least six families must vacate their homes in Sheikh Jarrah on Sunday, despite living there for generations. Forced evictions in Palestine have become the norm from decades, and is something that Palestinians have been protesting against from years.