Israeli troops storm and encircle Aqsa Mosque

PIC – 28/02/2010

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Sunday
stormed the courtyards of the Aqsa Mosque and cordoned off its premises
where dozens of Palestinian worshipers are still maintaining a vigil
and refusing to leave for fear of attacks by Israeli extremists.

Eyewitnesses said that more than 200 Israeli policemen have
encircled the Aqsa Mosque since the early morning hours and demanded
the worshipers come out, while the Palestinians inside the mosque used
the amplifiers of the Mosque to urge fellow citizens to head to the Old
City of occupied Jerusalem to defend it against Israeli violations.

Many unruly Israeli settlers were allowed by policemen to walk around in the Mosque courtyards.

12 Palestinian citizens including an elderly woman outside
reportedly suffered tear gas suffocation as they were trying to reach
the Aqsa Mosque.

Meanwhile, the neighborhoods of the Old City of Jerusalem saw
clashes between young Palestinian men and Israeli troops. Numbers of
protesters were reportedly rounded up.

Other Palestinian citizens living in the neighborhoods near the
gates of the Aqsa Mosque complained that the IOF troops stormed and
ransacked their homes, and used the roofs to observe the movement of
people.

For his part, Hamas spokesman Yousuf Farahat on Sunday appealed to
all Muslim scholars and leaders to urgently move to defend Jerusalem
and the Aqsa Mosque against Israeli crimes.

In a press release, Farahat noted that the feeble official Arab
stand is the umbrella under which the Israeli occupation is working and
setting schemes to Judaize the whole city of Jerusalem.

In a related context, the Israeli occupation authority (IOA)
announced the launch of a 30-month project to fully change the Arab
landmarks and sites in the holy city.

Al-Jazeera website said that Israel claims that this project is
intended for developing the infrastructure of the city, but in fact it
is aimed to obliterate its Arab identity and turn it into a Jewish
religious area.

For its part, the Israeli Maariv newspaper warned that the winds of
war are blowing from the north and castigated the Israeli premier for
his failure to control the angry protests against his decision to seize
the Ibrahimi Mosque in Al-Khalil city.

It opined that if there had been negotiations with Syria, the
Iranian president would not have visited Damascus and the danger of war
would have subsided.

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