World reacts to Israeli forces raid on Al-Aqsa

Masjid al-Aqsa had been transformed into a deadly battlezone yesterday night. As worshippers performed Salaah, Israeli Occupation forces stormed the Masjid and rained down sound bombs, tear gas and rubber bullets on worshippers. (May 8, 2021)

More countries and organizations condemned Israel for attacking worshippers in Al-Aqsa mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and its evictions of Palestinians from their homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers.

Palestinians had over the past couple of weeks staged a series of sit-ins in the area and parts of occupied East Jerusalem to denounce Israel’s attempt to forcefully expel residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood to make way for Jewish settlements.

Responding to the crackdown, Hamas, the group that rules the Gaza Strip, issued an ultimatum to Israel, saying it had until 6pm (15:00 GMT) to withdraw its forces from the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.

Shortly after the deadline expired, Hamas fired several rockets into Israel. Israel responded by launching air raids at the besieged territory, killing 20 people, according to Gaza health ministry.

Activists in Al-Aqsa welcomed the firing of rockets from Gaza, seeing it as support. “If Israel continues its policies there will be a third Intifada,” Palestinian activist Dawood Afifi told Al Jazeera from Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

A huge blaze broke out on Monday evening in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, visible from various parts of the city, Al Jazeera reported.

The cause of the blaze at the third holiest site in Islam could not immediately be confirmed, but it followed Israeli police forces storming the compound which medics said left 331 people wounded.

Here is how countries and the international community have so far reacted to the events:

Turkish president vows mobilization against Israeli ‘terror’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to mobilize the world to stop Israeli “terror”, in phone calls Monday to Palestinian leaders.

In the calls to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, Erdogan denounced Israel’s actions and extended support.

The Turkish leader pledged to “do everything in his power to mobilise the world, starting with the Islamic world, to stop Israel’s terror and occupation,” his office said.

Thousands of people rallied on Monday outside the Israeli embassy in Ankara and the country’s consulate in Istanbul in protest of recent Israeli violence against Palestinians.

The protesters in Istanbul carried Palestinian flags and chanted, “Down with Israel, down with America”.

Saudi Arabia has condemned attacks carried out by Israeli forces at Al-Aqsa, a foreign ministry statement said Tuesday.

The actions have caused concern in the Muslim world as the site is one of the most religious in Islam.

The Saudi ministry of foreign affairs strongly condemns the attacks carried out by the occupation forces at Al-Aqsa mosque transgressing the safety and security of the worshippers, the statement said.

Saudi Arabia urged the international community to hold Israel accountable for the escalation of the events and calls for the immediate cessation of any exacerbation violating the international pacts and treaties, it added.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif took to Twitter to blame Israel for stealing “people’s land & homes” and creating “an Apartheid regime”.

He also accused Israel of refusing to vaccinate citizens “under illegal occupation” and accused Israeli police of shooting “innocent worshippers” inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

On Saturday, a foreign ministry spokesman called on the United Nations to condemn the Israeli police action in the mosque compound, saying it amounted to a “war crime”.

Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, denounced the Israeli storming and attack on Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

“Strongly condemn Israeli Forces’ attack esp during Ramazan on Palestinians in Qibla-e-Awaal, Al-Aqsa Mosque, violating all norms of humanity & int [international] law,” he wrote in a Twitter post.

“We reiterate support for Palestinian ppl,” he added. He called on the international community to take immediate action “to protect Palestinians & their legitimate rights”.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement it “firmly” condemned “the new incursion of Israeli forces into the Al-Aqsa Mosque”.

Egypt’s assistant minister of foreign affairs, Nazih al-Najari, on Monday met the Israeli ambassador in Cairo, Amira Oron, to say Egypt rejected and denounced Israel’s action.

Jordan summoned the Israeli chargé d’affaires in Amman, and threatened to recall its ambassador in Tel Aviv. There were also loud demonstrations outside the Embassy of Israel in Jordan calling for its closure, Arab News reported.

Biden administration voices concern

The Biden administration has serious concerns about the escalating violence in Israel as tensions simmer in Jerusalem, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

“We are continuing to closely monitor the violence in Israel. We have serious concerns about the situation, including violent confrontations that we’ve seen over the last few days,” said Psaki.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said rocket attacks by Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip into Israel were an “unacceptable escalation”, adding that the United States was “fully engaged” to promote calm in Jerusalem.

US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar tweeted Israel’s air raids in Gaza killing civilians were an “act of terrorism” and that Palestinians “deserve protection”.

“Unlike Israel, missile defense programs, such as Iron Dome, don’t exist to protect Palestinian civilians. It’s unconscionable to not condemn these attacks on the week of Eid.” Eid is the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

United States Senator Chris Murphy expressed “great concern” about the “violence in and around Jerusalem” and called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to “commit to a path of de-escalation”.

“This constant ratcheting up of violence may serve political interests but ultimately could lead to chaos and is ultimately going to get a lot of people killed,” Senator Murphy warned in a conference call with reporters in Washington.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Saturday condemned the Israeli violence in a statement on Twitter, calling on the Israeli government to listen to the international community's calls and cease its attacks on Islam's third holiest site as well as its illegal evictions of Palestinian residents in the occupied neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

"Attacking a place of worship at any time is reprehensible, but attacking a mosque during Ramadan is utterly indefensible," Sturgeon said.

"It is also a violation of international law. Israel should heed calls to halt the violence immediately," the first minister added, using the hashtag #SheikhJarrah that has been trending on Twitter in the past week.

The four members of the Middle East Quartet – the US, Russia, the European Union and the UN – on Saturday expressed “deep concern” over violence in Jerusalem.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his deep concern over the situation in occupied East Jerusalem, as well as the possible forced expulsion of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah.

In a statement issued by his spokesman Stephane Dujarric, the UN chief urged Israel to “cease demolitions and evictions, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian and international human rights law”.

“Israeli authorities must exercise maximum restraint and respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. All leaders have a responsibility to act against extremists and to speak out against all acts of violence and incitement,” he said.

Like all people in the world, Palestinians should live in safety

Indonesian president Joko Widodo said the forced evictions of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah and the use of force in the Al-Aqsa Mosque could “not be ignored”.

Writing on Twitter, Widodo said: “Indonesia condemns such acts and urges the UN Security Council to take measures on the repeated violations carried out by Israel. Indonesia will continue to stand with the people of Palestine.”

Bakir Izetbegovic, the president of Bosnia's Party of Democratic Action, stressed that all forms of discrimination and violence based on religious, ethnic and ideological differences must be called out. "Like all people in the world, Palestinians should live in safety," he said in a statement.

"The bloodshed in the holy month of Ramadan, the removal of Palestinians from their homes is an attack on civilizational values," he added.

The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission, which is part of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said in a statement released Sunday that Israel's recent illegal measures amount to "war crimes" under international humanitarian law, and those committing the "ruthless violations" in East Jerusalem must be prosecuted.

The commission condemned Israel's illegal and brutal use of force against protesting Palestinians, saying it is "appalled by the brutality."

It also noted that attacking Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan was a serious violation of their right to freedom of religion.

"It is simply inhuman to attack the innocent unarmed worshippers with water cannons, stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets," the statement said.

Concerning the illegal and forced eviction of Palestinians from their homes by the Israeli police, the commission "strongly condemned" the expansionist policy of the occupying forces of Israel and urged the country "to immediately halt these forced evictions."

"East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, no part of which can be confiscated by the Occupying Power by any coercive measures," the statement said.

Ironically, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation formerly the Organization of the Islamic Conference was formed in 1969 after fire at Al-Aqsa mosque on August 21, 1969. The fire, which destroyed part of the old wooden roof and a 800-year-old pulpit was blamed on Australian Denis Michael Rohan — by Israel, and on Zionists and Zionism in general by the Muslim countries.

— Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America ( email: