Under the protection of the Israeli army, settlers performed religious rituals to celebrate the Jewish festival of Passover at Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron City, while Palestinians' movement at the mosque was impeded by Israeli soldiers. The settlers also entered Al-Aqsa Mosque and performed religious prayers under tightened security measures.
Over the past weeks, tension between Israelis and Palestinians has flared up in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, especially after Passover began on Friday during the Ramadan. Some 200 Palestinians have been injured in the recent wave of clashes in East Jerusalem, mainly at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is holy to both Muslims and Jews.
Director of Al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani said that Israeli police arrested three Palestinians at the mosque and fired teargas and sound bombs at Palestinian worshipers. Rafiq Al-Jabari, Hebron governor's deputy, warned of the danger of keeping the Ibrahimi Mosque closed, noting that Israel continues imposing restrictions on the residents of and visitors to the old city of Hebron, "which makes the living condition in the city very difficult."
Hussein Al-Sheikh, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, condemned the Israeli government for permitting Jewish settlers to enter the Ibrahimi Mosque and Al-Aqsa Mosque compounds.
During what the mainstream media sees as al-Aqsa Mosque "CLASHES", heavily armed Israeli forces interrupt the prayers of unarmed Palestinian worshippers at the al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard, forcing them to leave the place.#FreePalestine#FlyTheFlagpic.twitter.com/559pLwFi0h
Following the clashes on Friday, United Nations Secretary Antonio Guterres insisted that "provocations" on the Holy Esplanade must stop immediately. The status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem, he said, must be upheld and respected.
On Tuesday, Shadi Othman, a European Union (EU) communication official in Jerusalem, urged Israel "to fulfill its commitments under international law and the signed peace agreements," and also allow worshiping at Al-Aqsa Mosque during the Ramadan.
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas discussed with U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken on phone about the current tension. He explained to Blinken that dozens of Israeli settlers broke into the compound of Al-Aqsa Mosque every day, which "is a flagrant violation of the historical and legal situation of the mosque."
Blinken said that Israel should be informed to be committed to the historical situation of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the freedom and safety of Muslim worshipers at the mosque, adding that his country rejects the settlers' violence.