World leaders and global organizations expressed concern about and condemned Israeli violence against Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Wednesday, with some warning that it could further escalate tensions in the region.
Israeli police walk inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, on April 5, 2023 after violence against Muslim worshippers during Islam's holy month of Ramadan. (AFP Photo)
Germany urged both sides "to do everything possible to calm the situation."
The Arab League denounced "the attack on the faithful" and called an emergency meeting.
In a statement issued after an emergency meeting on the incident, the League condemned what it called "crimes committed by the Israeli occupation forces against defenceless Muslim worshippers" in the mosque.
The pre-dawn raid risked "igniting a spiral of violence that threatens security and stability in the region and the world", it added.
It called on the United Nations, including the Security Council, to assume its legal, moral and humanitarian responsibilities for halting the Israeli aggression and providing international protection for the Palestinian people.
Jordan, which administers the mosque, condemned its "storming," and called on Israeli forces to leave the compound immediately.
The United Arab Emirates and Morocco, which established ties with Israel in 2020 as part of U.S.-brokered accords, also strongly condemned the Israeli police action.
A UAE foreign ministry statement rejected all practices that "threaten to further exacerbate escalation". It also criticized worshippers who "barricade themselves."
Rabat's foreign ministry stressed the need "to avoid measures and violations likely to damage chances of peace in the region."
The Gulf emirate of Qatar, which does not recognize Israel, warned that Israeli practices "will have serious repercussions on security and stability in the region, and will undermine efforts to revive the stalled peace process, if the international community does not hasten to take action."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau voiced concern about violence, but fell short of condemning the violence.
"We are extremely concerned with the inflamed rhetoric coming out of the Israeli government," Trudeau said at a public budget announcement.
"It is the holy month of Ramadan and Passover together, and both Israeli and Palestinian families deserve to be able to celebrate in peace and security," he said.
"We are concerned by the violence around Al-Aqsa Mosque during this holy month. We need to see the Israeli government shifting in its approach," said Trudeau. "We need to see a de-escalation of violence and people should be living in peace and prosperity in the region."
The U.S. also expressed concern about the ongoing tensions in occupied East Jerusalem and urged "all sides" to exercise restraint, also failing to condemn the violence.
"We remain extremely concerned by the continuing violence, and we urge all sides to avoid further escalation," White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters during a news conference.
"It's imperative, now more than ever, that both Israelis and Palestinians work together to de-escalate this tension and to restore a sense of calm," he added.
Asked why there was no U.S. condemnation of the Israeli attack on Palestinian worshippers, Kirby responded by saying: "I think we have a very strong track record of speaking out against violence all around the world, and the death and injury caused to people of all faiths. "
UN chief 'appalled' by violence from Israeli forces at Al-Aqsa Mosque complex
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is "appalled" by the violence from Israeli forces against worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, his spokesman said Wednesday.
Guterres "is shocked and appalled by the images he saw this morning of the violence and beating by Israeli security forces inside the Al-Qibli Mosque in Jerusalem at a time of the calendar which is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims," Stephane Dujarric said at a news conference.
"This should be a time for peace and non-violence," he said.
Dujarric echoed a statement from U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland who urged political, religious and community leaders on all sides to reject incitement, inflammatory rhetoric and provocative actions.
Wennesland said leaders should act responsibly and refrain from steps that could escalate tensions.
He stated the U.N. is in close contact with all concerned parties to de-escalate the situation.
Tension rose Wednesday in the occupied West Bank after Israeli police detained around 350 worshippers from inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.
Muslim academics, authors union condemn Israel's raid on Al-Aqsa
Muslim academics and a union of authors based in Türkiye also condemned Israel's raid on Al-Aqsa Mosque.
"We strongly condemn Israel's latest raid on Masjid al-Aqsa. We believe that this attack carried out on April 5, 2023, during the holy month of Ramadan, justifies once again the definition of Israel as a ‘terrorist state,'" the head of the Aybir union, Fatih Savaşan, said in a statement.
"It is understood that with such attacks, which Israel makes habitual during Ramadan, it not only intimidates Palestinian Muslims, but also aims to insult and defame both them and all Muslims around the globe," he added.
The statement noted that in occupied territories, Israel continues to violate all kinds of human rights with its most extreme actions.
"Although it is sad for humanity that these acts of human rights violations remain unpunished for now, the day will surely come when Israel's high rank state officials and those who carry out these violations on the ground will be held responsible," it said.
It also urged Islamic countries to initiate criminal investigations against those involved in these and similar acts, and that all non-governmental organizations should initiate the judicial process by applying to relevant national and international authorities.
A group of Palestinians barricaded themselves inside the Al-Qibli Prayer Hall in the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex on Wednesday after Jewish settlers called for a raid on the mosque. They attempted to prevent police from entering by closing its doors.
Surrounding the Al-Qibli Prayer Hall, Israeli police went up to the roof of the mosque, smashed some of the windows and initially intervened with sound bombs against the worshippers inside. Some of the people in the mosque tried to resist the police by throwing fireworks.
Palestinian witness Abdel Karim Ikraiem, 74, charged that Israeli police armed with batons, tear gas grenades and smoke bombs, burst into the mosque "by force" and "beat the women and men" worshipping there.
One video widely circulated on social media showed police clubbing people on the floor inside the mosque.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said it had treated 37 people, including some after their release from custody.
Israel's far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir voiced "complete backing" for police and their "swift and determined" actions.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents Islam's third-holiest site. Jews call the area the Temple Mount, saying it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.