Pretoria – South Africa has condemned the Israeli attacks on Palestinian Muslim worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, where many were wounded and others arrested.
“The government of the Republic of South Africa has noted with concern, the Israeli occupation forces assault on the Palestinian worshippers overnight at the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” said a communique issued Wednesday by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
“At least seven worshippers sustained injuries during the attacks and 400 Palestinians were arrested. They are being held at a police station in Atarot in East Jerusalem.
“‘South Africa condemns these violent acts by the Israeli government against the worshippers and calls for calm and the withdrawal of the forces from the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
The department said the use of stun grenades and tear gas on worshippers was unjust.
“These actions threaten the internationally agreed status quo in relation to Jerusalem and its sacred sites,” the communique continued.
“The Palestinian Muslim worshippers have a right to practice their religion in peace, without fear or intimidation of the Israeli police.
“Al-Aqsa Mosque belongs to all Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims, and they do not require permission or approval from the Israeli government to enter or pray in the Mosque.”
The department said the actions by Israeli forces undermine all peace efforts and may lead to an explosion in the region.
The year 2022 has been described as the deadliest year for Palestinians since the United Nations started tracking fatalities in 2005.
More than 200 Palestinians were killed during the Israeli attacks last year.
“Israel as the occupying power has specific obligations in terms of international human rights and humanitarian law to protect Palestinians,” said the department.
“However, the Israeli government continues to breach these obligations with no accountability.
“The South African Government remains unequivocally committed to and values efforts aimed at reviving a political process, leading to ending the occupation so that the human rights of all are secured.”
Israeli authorities said the Muslim worshippers had failed to adhere to agreed times to vacate the mosque. The claimed worshippers were found with fireworks and other dangerous objects.
Reuters reports that Israeli police clashed with Palestinians at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque a second time on Wednesday, witnesses said, hours after the arrest and removal of more than 350 people in a police raid at the compound and despite a U.S.A. appeal to ease tensions.
The confrontations, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and on the eve of the Jewish Passover holiday, triggered a cross-border exchange of fire in Gaza and stoked fears of further violence.