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2022-April-30  14:59

Deadly West Bank Attacks Follow Israeli Raid on Al-Aqsa

TEHRAN (FNA)- A Palestinian man and an Israeli guard have been killed in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank after Israeli forces raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man overnight on Friday in the North of the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, Al-Jazeera reported.

Yahya Adwan, 27, was shot in the chest during an Israeli army operation in the town of Azzun, the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Meanwhile, a guard was attacked at the entrance of the Ariel settlement, the Israeli army said, adding that they were pursuing the perpetrators.

Hamas, the Palestinian movement that governs the Gaza Strip, hailed the killing as an “heroic operation”, with Spokesman Hazem Qassem declaring it a response to the “attacks on Al-Aqsa”, Islam’s third holiest site, which has been one of the focal points for weeks of violence.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said 42 people had been injured on Friday morning at the compound, Islam’s third holiest site. The Western Wall of the compound is sacred to Jews.

The unrest, which came on the final Friday in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, left those injured suffering “upper-body injuries”, said the Red Crescent.

An AFP journalist said Israeli police fired rubber-coated bullets while witnesses said they also used tear gas.

An uneasy calm had been restored at the compound following the unrest that surrounded morning prayers, but tensions remained high.

In the early afternoon, a crowd of Muslim worshippers gathered at Al-Aqsa. Some people waved Palestinian flags and the colours of Hamas, an AFP journalist said.

Over the past two weeks, nearly 300 Palestinians have been hurt in incursions by Israeli police forces at the Al-Aqsa compound. The 35-acre compound is referred to as Al-Haram Al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary by Muslims and as the Temple Mount by Jews.

The site is in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move not recognised by most of the international community.

Israel’s incursions into the compound during Ramadan met widespread condemnation and raised fears of inflaming persistent Israeli-Palestinian tensions across Jerusalem.

But Israel has insisted it has been compelled to act against operatives from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad groups.

In an apparent attempt to ease tensions, Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has stressed that Tel Aviv is committed to the status quo at the compound, meaning adherence to a longstanding convention that only Muslims are allowed to pray there.

Muslim leaders have, however, been angered by a recent uptick in visits. Some voiced fears that Israel was seeking to divide the compound and create a space where Jews may worship. Lapid told journalists that no such plan exists.

According to the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, nearly 3,700 Israeli settlers have entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound over the past week to mark the Jewish festival of Passover.

The fresh unrest comes as the end of Ramadan nears early next week and as Israel authorised new settlement construction in the illegally occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

On Wednesday, Israel’s High Court approved the construction of a 31-unit six-storey apartment complex for settlers in the heart of the city.

Violence in occupied East Jerusalem has raised fears of another armed conflict similar to the 11-day Israeli assault on Gaza last year, triggered in part by similar unrest at Al-Aqsa. At least 232 Palestinians in Gaza were killed.

Since early last week, there has been isolated rocket fire from Gaza towards Israel and Israeli rockets at the Strip, but no casualties reported on either side.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders held a rally in Gaza late on Thursday, with calls to “defend” Jerusalem, including Al-Aqsa.

The Al-Aqsa tensions have come against a backdrop of violence since March 22 in Israel and the occupied West Bank.

A total of 27 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed during the same period.