Al-Aqsa Mosque Under Attack
Plus: Far-right Sweden activists planned to burn Quran, Saudi Arabia pushed the Yemeni President to step down, and much more.
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Israel - Palestine: Al-Aqsa Mosque Under Attack
The controversial incursions on Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, have long been a cause of tensions and violence against Palestinians in East Jerusalem and beyond.
On Friday, April 15, Israeli forces stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque using tear gas shells and sound bombs, injuring at least 59 Palestinians.
Israeli police on Sunday, April 17, entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque for the second time to secure the way for Jewish visitors to the flashpoint holy site, fueling clashes that left 20 Palestinians wounded two days after major violence at the flashpoint site.
These events follow the deadly violence in Israel and the occupied West Bank starting in late March 2022, in which 36 people were killed.
A year ago, violence in Jerusalem between Israeli security forces and Palestinian demonstrators escalated into an 11-day Gaza war.
Israeli police accused Palestinians of "defiling and desecrating" a holy site, while Palestinian officials accused Israel of trying to divide the sensitive holy site.
To Palestinians, they are viewed as part of a decades-old strategy by the Israeli state and right-wing groups to "Judaise" the city and rid it of its native Islamic and Christian Palestinian heritage.
To far-right Israeli groups, they are the first step to lay the foundation for the destruction of al-Aqsa and replace it with a Third Temple, which they believe will be built atop the mosque.
Quran under threat in Sweden
Several Middle Eastern governments and politicians have spoken out against plans by a far-right politician in Sweden to burn a copy of the Quran.
The controversy began with plans by the Swedish-Danish politician Rasmus Paludan to hold a rally on Sunday, April 17, in the Swedish city Norrkoping. Paludan, who leads the far-right and anti-Muslim immigration party Hard Line, reportedly planned to burn a copy of the Quran at the event, as he already did in the past.
Violent riots broke out in several areas of Sweden over the plan. Rioters clashed with police leading to dozens of arrests. Paludan ended up canceling the rally, saying police could not protect him.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry condemned the "deliberate abuse of the Holy Quran."
Iraq summoned the top Swedish diplomat in Baghdad to protest the issue.
Iran also summoned Sweden's charge d'affaires in Tehran, and the governments of Jordan and Qatar denounced the plans the same day.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry also condemned the burning on Monday, April 18.
The Swedish government has not apologized for Paludan's activities.
Saudi Arabia pushed Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to step down earlier this month.
According to Saudi and Yemeni officials, Saudi authorities have largely confined him to his home in Riyadh and restricted communications with him in the days since.
On April 7, Mr. Hadi handed power to a council of eight representatives of different Yemeni groups as Saudi Arabia looks for ways to end a seven-year civil war in Yemen that has caused a humanitarian crisis and damaged the kingdom's relations with the United States.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Monday, April 18, that Iran was ready to respond to any military moves taken against it by Israel. His comments came during a military parade in Tehran.
The message from Tehran comes as Israel faces rising tensions during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The flashpoint is, once again, the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, which is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.
On Thursday, April 14, Lebanon's cabinet approved the demolition of the Beirut silos damaged in the August 2020 port blast, which left at least 215 people dead.
However, families of victims have called for the gutted grain silos to remain in place as a memorial, at least until a stalled probe into the chemical explosion can conclude.
Turkey has launched a new air and ground offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq.
Commando units and special forces, backed by unmanned aerial vehicles and attack helicopters involved in Operation Claw-Lock, are targeting Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) hideouts in the Metina, Zap, and Avashin-Basyan regions of northern Iraq.
That's all for this week. Thanks for reading Inshallah. Share this article and subscribe to be up to date about news from the Middle East every week. It's free.
My name is Dario Sabaghi, a freelance journalist. I am interested in human rights and international news focusing on the MENA region.
Check out my work at dariosabaghi.com.
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