Hours into ceasefire deal, Israeli police storm Al Aqsa compound once more

Israeli forces launch tear gas shells, fire rubber bullets at worshipers who had stayed back after Friday prayers to celebrate truce

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Worshipers rushing to safety as Israeli police forces storm the Al Aqsa mosque compound, hours after truce was announced between Israel and Hamas, on May 21, 2021. — AFP

- Israeli police storm Al Aqsa mosque compound where Palestinian worshipers had stayed back after Friday prayers to celebrate truce.
A few hours into a ceasefire agreement reached between the Israeli government and Hamas, which governs the Gaza strip, Israeli police were reported to have stormed the compound of the Al-Aqsa mosque once more on Friday.

Several Arab media outlets reported the forces launched tear gas shells and fired rubber bullets.

Al Jazeera journalist Arwa Ibrahim also reported stun grenades being launched at worshipers, "Back to square one?" she asked.

Citing Red Crescent, she said at least 20 people were injured.

Ibrahim shared footage from the compound, showing worshipers scrambling amid loud explosions in the background.

The worshipers had stayed back after Friday prayers to celebrate the truce.

“They were singing and chanting when a contingent of the Israeli police [stationed] next to the compound came into the compound and started using crowd control measures that they use all the time, including stun grenades, smoke bombs and tear gas,” Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, who was reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said.

“They started firing in that crowd in an effort to try and disperse them.”

Israeli strikes on Gaza have killed 232 Palestinians, including 65 children, and have wounded another 1,900, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Vast areas have been reduced to rubble and some 120,000 people have been displaced, according to Hamas authorities.

On the Israeli side, 12 people, including two children, have died.

The truce brokered by Egypt, that also included Gaza’s second-most powerful group, Islamic Jihad, was agreed upon in the early hours of Friday, following mounting international pressure to stem the bloodshed which erupted on May 10.

The violence was triggered after police action at Al-Aqsa mosque during the Ramadan fasting month.

Qureshi hopes for lasting truce

Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is in New York along with foreign ministers from several Muslim countries, and who addressed the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, told Geo News they were all were in a meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres when the Palestinian foreign minister broke news of the ceasefire agreement after receiving word from Egypt.

"We all expressed our happiness and welcomed the news and prayed for it to be lasting.

"In 2014, a similar deal was reached but lapsed," Qureshi said.

The foreign minister said he had also held bilateral talks with Guterres. "We spoke about yesterday's activities and what steps the United Nations and the Security Council should take in the future, along with how all the other organs of the UN should move forward together."

"I requested him to continue his struggle for a lasting solution and informed him we trust he will make efforts for this," Qureshi said.

He said that it is imperative a solution to the Palestine crisis be sought if peace in Middle East is to be achieved. Israel and Palestine will have to sit together and reach a two-state solution, he added.

Speaking of clashes that have erupted once more today, Qureshi said the Al Aqsa mosque is a site considered sacred by people of the Muslim, Christian and Jewish faiths alike and so no one should violate its sanctity.

He said no one should be allowed to throw grenades or toss stun grenades or prevent prayers. "We will have to continue our struggle for this as well."