Wild Video Shows Protesters Viciously Beaten By Police At Iconic Religious Site In Jerusalem

(Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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Video shared to social media Wednesday shows Israeli police forces viciously beating Palestinians in the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, sparking backlash from Muslims and the Arab world.

Palestinian worshippers seemingly barricaded themselves inside a prayer hall in the mosque, which was breached by Israeli forces who can be seen beating Palestinians with rifle butts and sticks as they take control of the situation. Video released by the Israeli government shows Palestinians setting off fireworks inside the mosque and throwing stones.

The al-Aqsa mosque compound is the third holiest site in Islam. It is also known as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. It has been a site of tension and conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in the past.

Violence has escalated in recent months since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu retook office at the end of last year. Raids by Israeli forces into the West Bank have increased in frequency, as have attacks by Palestinians.

Last year, conflict at the compound was particularly bad as Ramadan and Passover overlapped for the first time in three decades, according to the BBC. That’s the case again this year, beginning Wednesday.

Several hundred Muslims barricaded themselves inside the prayer hall after Ramadan prayers. The militant group Hamas had called for Palestinians to barricade themselves inside to prevent Jewish worshippers from sacrificing a goat for Passover at the site, according to media reports.

Most were cleared out relatively quickly by Israeli police, but a few dozen remained, leading to the more violent clashes, according to the BBC. (RELATED: Nearly All Of Israel Shuts Down, Forces Netanyahu To Back Down On Proposed Reforms)

Police said that “lawbreakers and troublemakers” desecrated the mosque, while Palestinian leaders said a “red line” had been crossed. The incident sparked yet another exchange of rockets and airstrikes between Gaza and Israeli forces.

Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League in response to the raid.