April 5, 2023 | Flash Brief

Palestinian Rioters Attack Israeli Forces at al-Aqsa Mosque

April 5, 2023 | Flash Brief

Palestinian Rioters Attack Israeli Forces at al-Aqsa Mosque

Latest Developments

Palestinian rioters armed with fireworks, batons, and stones barricaded themselves in the al-Aqsa Mosque Tuesday night and refused to exit peacefully, prompting Israeli forces — after unsuccessful negotiations with the occupants — to enter the site. The Palestinians inside responded with violence against the Israelis. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that peaceful worshipers at al-Aqsa testified that the violent extremists had “imprisoned” them, preventing other Muslims from coming to the mosque to pray.

After the Israeli raid, terrorists in Gaza fired 16 rockets toward Israel. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades claimed responsibility. Israel responded by hitting targets in Gaza, including a Hamas weapons cache. This is consistent with Israel’s longstanding policy of holding Hamas accountable for rocket fire emanating from Gaza.

Expert Analysis

“Once again, extremists have hijacked the holy month of Ramadan. Once again, young thugs are shooting fireworks at police out of the third-holiest mosque in Islam. Once again, terror groups seek to leverage this into a broader confrontation with Israel. And once again, such behavior has gone uncriticized by moderate Arab states like Jordan. This pattern brings the region to the brink of war each year, with Ramadan wielded cynically as the predicate.” — Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

“Palestinian extremists are once again inciting to violence at sensitive religious sites during Ramadan and Passover. They seek to take advantage of a pre-established media and political narrative that refuses to acknowledge a clear causal connection between the violence and reasonable Israeli security steps to constrain it. This framing not only misleads readers but fans the flames, with dangerous consequences for the people of the region.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

Palestinian and Jordanian Incitement Precedes Violence

Throughout the day on Tuesday, Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas, issued false claims on social media that al-Aqsa was in danger, calling on Muslims to defend the mosque from “the occupation.” This type of incitement is an established tactic of Palestinian terrorist organizations, intended to stoke violence at what has become a flash point for Israeli and Palestinians tensions.

On Sunday, Jordan’s King Abdullah II told a visiting Palestinian Authority (PA) delegation, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, that it was “the duty of every Muslim to deter Israeli escalations against … holy sites in Jerusalem.” Abdullah’s rhetoric follows a recent pattern whereby Jordan reflexively blames Israel for violence on the Temple Mount.

Israel Is Committed to Maintaining Freedom of Worship

Since the month of Ramadan began on March 22, hundreds of thousands of law-abiding, peaceful Muslim pilgrims have entered the al-Aqsa Mosque, facilitated by Israeli police, without major incident. “Israel is committed to maintaining freedom of worship, free access to all religions and the status quo on the Temple Mount, and will not allow violent extremists to change this,” Netanyahu said Wednesday. Still, the escalatory pattern on Tuesday night is familiar to Israeli security forces, as Ramadan has historically been a month of elevated incitement and violence at al-Aqsa.

Related Analysis

Jordan’s King Incites Anti-Israel Sentiment,” FDD Flash Brief

Pray for Peace This Ramadan,” by Jonathan Schanzer and Natalie Ecanow

Mapping Terrorism in the West Bank,” by Joe Truzman


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Palestinian Politics