Israeli forces attack Palestinian worshippers in al-Aqsa

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Israeli forces have once again attacked Palestinian worshippers at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Witnesses said the Israeli troops on Sunday used tear gas and sound bombs to disperse the worshippers in the compound. Sixteen people were also arrested.

The clashes erupted when a group of extremist Israeli settlers along with a Knesset (Israeli parliament) member entered the holy site. The move triggered clashes with Israeli troops raiding the compound to protect the settlers.

The al-Aqsa Mosque has been the scene of clashes in recent months following frequent visits by Israeli settlers and officials to the Muslim holy site.

Israeli forces also prevent Muslim worshipers from freely entering the mosque.

On April 18, Israeli forces pepper-sprayed nine elderly Palestinians attempting to enter the compound.

Israeli forces have erected barricades around the compound as part of restrictions imposed on Palestinians.

The al-Aqsa compound, which lies in the Israeli-occupied Old City of al-Quds, is a flashpoint. The compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, is the holiest site in Judaism. It is also Islam’s third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

On Saturday, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry slammed Israel for preventing UN and European diplomats to pass through a barricade to attend a pre-Easter ritual at a church in al-Quds.

Serry said Israeli troops stopped him as well as Italian, Norwegian and Dutch diplomats for up to half an hour near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, crushed by a crowd of worshipers against a barricade, before they managed to pass. He said his appeal to speak with a superior was ignored as well.

Criticizing “unacceptable behavior from the Israeli security authorities,” Serry called on the Tel Aviv regime to “respect the right of religious freedom.”

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