14 injured in Israeli attack on Al-Aqsa worshippers

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Israeli security forces fire sound grenades inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019, as clashes broke out during the overlapping Jewish and Muslim holidays of Eid al-Adha and the Tisha B'av holdiay inside the hisotric compound which is considered the third-holiest site in Islam and the most sacred for Jews. (AFP / AHMAD GHARABLI)
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Palestinians carry an injured person during clashes with Israeli police at Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem on Aug 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
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Updated 12 August 2019

14 injured in Israeli attack on Al-Aqsa worshippers

  • The clashes erupted after the Israeli police and government allowed Jewish extremists to visit the site
  • Jews are barred from praying at the compound under a longstanding arrangement between Israel and Muslim authorities

AMMAN: At least 14 Palestinians were injured on Sunday when Israeli police fired tear gas and stun grenades at up to 100,000 worshippers during prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque compound to mark the first day of Eid Al-Adha.

The clashes erupted after the Israeli police and government allowed Jewish extremists to visit the site, after initially barring entry. Jerusalem police commander Doron Yedid said the policy had changed “with the backing of top political officials.”

Jews are barred from praying at the compound under a longstanding arrangement between Israel and Muslim authorities, but in recent years right-wing nationalists have stepped up visits to the site to challenge the arrangement. Jewish extremists have called for the mosque to be destroyed and the biblical Jewish temple to be rebuilt on the site.

Israeli security forces scuffle with Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019. (AFP / Ahmad Gharabli)

Islamic Waqf officials had postponed morning prayers for an hour on Sunday, closed all Jerusalem mosques and called on Muslims to stay on the grounds to prevent the extremists’ incursion.

“This is a clear violation of an understanding that has existed since 1967, and it is aimed at trying to show that Al-Aqsa is not for Muslims by themselves,” Khaleel Assali, a member of the Islamic Waqf council, told Arab News.

Jordan, the custodian of the holy site, blamed Israel for Sunday’s violence and submitted a formal complaint to the Israeli government. “We condemn the continued Israeli violations against Al-Aqsa Mosque, and attacks on worshippers and Waqf teams on the ground,” the Foreign Ministry in Amman said. “We hold the Israeli government responsible.”

Mahdi Abdul Hadi, director of the PASSIA think tank in Jerusalem and a member of the Waqf council, told Arab News the decision to delay the prayer time and to call people to Al-Aqsa was wise.

“Jerusalemites sent a strong message that has defeated attempts at storming the mosque, but the blind military machine injured youth, women, and children in order to try and enforce its dominion on Al-Aqsa,” he said.

“The people of Jerusalem defeated similar attempts in 1928, 1969, 2017 and now in 2019.”

Nasser Laham, editor of the independent Palestinian website Maan News, told Arab News the Israeli media was exaggerating and contributing to the violence. “A quick look at their headlines and you can see them full of lies, incitement, and violence,” he said.

Jamal Dajani, former head of the Palestinian prime minister’s media office, said the actions of the Israeli government were intentional. “Netanyahu is deliberately allowing extremist colonial settlers to antagonize Palestinian worshippers during Eid in order to provoke clashes and have a pretext to take control of Al-Aqsa, just as was done with Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron,” he said on Twitter.

US reaches ceasefire deal with Turkey in northern Syria

Updated 42 min 23 sec ago

US reaches ceasefire deal with Turkey in northern Syria

ANKARA: ANKARA: Turkey agreed on Thursday to pause its offensive in Syria for five days to let Kurdish forces withdraw from a “safe zone” Ankara had sought to capture, in a deal hailed by Washington but which Turkish leaders cast as a complete victory.
The truce was announced by US Vice President Mike Pence after talks in Ankara with Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, and was swiftly hailed by President Donald Trump, who said it would save “millions of lives.”

But if implemented it would achieve all the main objectives Turkey announced when it launched the assault eight days ago: control of a strip of Syria more than 30 kilometers deep, with the Kurdish YPG militia, formerly close US allies, obliged to pull out.
“The safe zone will be primarily enforced by the Turkish Armed Forces,” a joint US-Turkish statement released after the talks said.
A Turkish official told Reuters Ankara got “exactly what we wanted” from the talks with the United States. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu described it as a pause, solely to allow the Kurdish fighters to withdraw.

Kurdish fighters would be forced to give up their heavy weapons and their positions would be destroyed, Cavusoglu said. He declined to call the agreement a “cease-fire,” saying cease-fires could be agreed only by legitimate sides, and not by the Kurds that Turkey considers terrorists.
Pence said Washington had already been in contact with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which had agreed to withdraw and were already pulling out.
Trump tweeted: “Great news out of Turkey.”
“Thank you to Erdogan,” Trump said. “Millions of lives will be saved!“
“Today the United States and Turkey have agreed to a cease-fire in Syria,” Pence told a news conference after more than four hours of talks at the presidential palace in Ankara.
“The Turkish side will pause Operation Peace Spring in order to allow for the withdrawal of YPG forces from the safe zone for 120 hours,” Pence said. “All military operations under Operation Peace Spring will be paused, and Operation Peace Spring will be halted entirely on completion of the withdrawal.”
The deal struck with Erdogan also provided for Turkey not to engage in military operations in the flashpoint Syrian border town of Kobani, Pence said. Cavusoglu said Turkey had given no commitments about Kobani.
Pence added that he had spoken to Trump after the talks and that Trump had expressed his gratitude for the cease-fire accord. Washington’s main goal had been to halt the violence, and it had succeeded, Pence said.
The Turkish assault has created a new humanitarian crisis in Syria with 200,000 civilians taking flight, a security alert over thousands of Daesh fighters abandoned in Kurdish jails, and a political maelstrom at home for Trump.
Trump has been accused of abandoning Kurdish-led fighters, Washington’s main partners in the battle to dismantle Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria, by withdrawing troops from the border as Ankara launched its offensive on Oct. 9.
Trump had defended his move on Wednesday as “strategically brilliant.” He said he thought Pence and Erdogan would have a successful meeting, but warned of sanctions and tariffs that “will be devastating to Turkey’s economy” otherwise.