Violence against Palestinian worshippers ‘not acceptable,’ says Johnson

By Hamed Chapman and Ahmed J Versi


London, (The Muslim News): Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has remained silent himself in the face of Israeli police firing rubber-coated metal bullets and dispensing tear gas when invading Islam’s third most holy site at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem allowing his spokesman to condemn the military attack on Palestinian worshippers.

Earlier, in a tweet, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab only condemned Palestinians and not Israelis for the violence. He said, “The UK condemns the firing of rockets at Jerusalem and locations within Israel. The ongoing violence in Jerusalem and Gaza must stop. We need an immediate de-escalation on all sides, and end to targeting of civilian populations.”

“Any violence against worshippers in the mosque is not acceptable,” his spokesman said when asked twice whether the Prime Minister would condemn the targeting of worshippers in al-Aqsa mosque.

“The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office has said the ongoing violence in Jerusalem and Gaza is deeply concerning and must stop and immediate de-escalation on all sides and end to targeting of civilian population,” he initially said.

On Monday, the number of Palestinians killed in attacks by Israeli forces on the Gaza Strip rose to 24 and those wounded to 103, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, according to his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, was said on Sunday to share “his deep concern over the continuing violence in occupied east Jerusalem, as well as the possible evictions of Palestinian families from their homes.”

In Washington, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price described the attacks as
“an unacceptable escalation,” adding that “while we urge de-escalation on all sides, we also recognize Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself, to defend its people and its territory.”

Ahead of meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was “very focused on the situation in Israel, [the] West Bank, Gaza – very deeply concerned about the rocket attacks that we’re seeing now, that they need to stop – they need to stop immediately.”

“The United States will remain fully engaged to promote calm in Jerusalem, and we welcome the steps the Israeli Government has taken in recent days aimed at avoiding provocations, including the decision to avoid confrontations during the Jerusalem Day commemoration and the delay in the decision regarding the Sheikh Jarrah evictions,” Blinken said.

EU Ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, also said he is “extremely concerned” by spiralling tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and that “the firing of rockets from Gaza against civilian populations in Israel is totally unacceptable and feeds escalatory dynamics.”

EU Foreign Affairs head, Josep Borrell, had initially focused on the Sheikh Jarrah evictions before Monday night’s rocket barrage, saying that the “situation with regard to evictions of Palestinian families… is a matter of serious concern. Such actions are illegal under international humanitarian law and only serve to fuel tensions on the ground.”

Tensions began to flare in the past week with an unresolved Supreme Court dispute surrounding the evictions of four Palestinian families from the Eeast Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

[Photo: Israeli forces attack Palestinians who gathered after a tarawih prayer at Damascus Gate of Masjid al-Aqsa Compound in East Jerusalem on May 10, 2021. Photographer: Mostafa Alkharouf/AA]

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