Press Releases

(Witness) Documents excessive use of force during incursions to Al-Aqsa Mosque and calls on the international community for urgent intervention

The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (witness) follows with great concern the systematic Israeli incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque and the accompanying assaults on civilians inside. The latest was the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli settlers, under the protection of the Israeli police, on Wednesday night, 4/5/2023, in an attempt to evacuate worshipers and proceed with the "Hebrew Easter” ceremony.

According to UNESCO’s Resolution No. 40 COM 7A.13 in 2016 on the Old City of Jerusalem and its walls, Al-Aqsa Mosque is considered an integral part of the world heritage as an Islamic place of worship whose integrity and authenticity must be respected and preserved.

(Witness) points out that the protection of the cultural and spiritual heritage of all nations is guaranteed by international law, especially the Second Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 1977 which provides that it is the responsibility of the occupation authorities to protect these properties and ensure that it is not subjected to seizure, destruction, intentional damage, or vandalism. The acts of vandalism carried out by the occupation police at Al-Aqsa Mosque present a major violation of the occupation authority's obligation to protect the cultural and spiritual heritage and refrain from acting upon any form of aggression.


Within the same context, the occupation police forces brutally attacked unarmed worshipers, forcing them to leave Al-Aqsa Mosque, and preventing non-zionists from entering it. The invasion was accompanied by targeting worshipers with tear gas and rubber bullets, and excessive use of force during the arrests and evacuation of the mosque neglecting the presence of women and children. The raid resulted in the arrest of more than 500 innocent Palestinians.


These brutal acts contradict the provisions of Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 which guarantees the right of every human being to life, liberty, and security. On the same ground, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 affirms in Article 6 thereof that it is an inherent right of every person.

(Witness) confirms that the brutality of the occupation police contradicts the right to freedom, security, physical integrity, and protection from cruel and degrading treatment, which accompanies the freedom of individuals to practice their religious rights without any annoyance.

(Witness) indicates that the attack also affected the medical staff of the Palestinian Red Crescent. Paramedics were physically attacked and ambulance cars were damaged, and police blocked their way from reaching and aiding the injured. All this while disregarding the special protection guaranteed for medical facilities  under international law, particularly health care providers and means of medical transport.

In accordance with the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, any means designated for transporting the wounded and sick and the medical personnel working therein must be respected and protected, and their duties in aiding and transporting the wounded and sick must be facilitated, and it is forbidden to treat them as targets for attacks or assaults. The visible mark represented by the protection sign of the Red Crescent displayed on ambulances reinforces the responsibility of the occupation police when targeting them.

It is worthwhile to mention that this attack is part of a series of repeated attacks that descends back several years and aims at changing the religious features of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and finding a foothold for Jewish settlers in this sacred Islamic landmark.

  The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (witness) warns of ongoing episodes of aggregations in violations of international law by the occupation forces which occur in front of the suspicious silence of the international community, and denounces the repeated Israeli attempts to change the identity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and accordingly calls for:


-      Stressing the role of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and all relevant international and regional organizations and bodies to take practical steps to prevent the recurrence of attacks, provided that action is not limited to declaring condemnation.

-      Holding the Israeli occupation authorities responsible for the damage to Palestinian cultural property and the repercussions of these practices

-      Demanding the international community and the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, to take practical steps, per their legal obligations, to force the occupation authorities to respect the rules of international humanitarian law.

-      Calling on the Kingdom of Jordan, as the custodian of the Islamic endowments in occupied Jerusalem, to take the necessary legal measures to prevent the aggravation of violations.


Beirut, 4/5/2023

The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (witness)