Iran accuses Israel of 'Zionist' aggression, promises new support for Palestinians after clash at holy site

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Iran accused Israel of “Zionist” aggression after clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israelis at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque Friday.

Over 150 Palestinians were injured after thousands gathered to pray at the holy site during the month of Ramadan – one of the most violent clashes since the Israel-Palestinian crisis last summer.

Palestinians chant slogans and wave Hamas flags during a protest against Israel, in front of the Dome of the Rock shrine at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, Friday, April 15, 2022. 

Palestinians chant slogans and wave Hamas flags during a protest against Israel, in front of the Dome of the Rock shrine at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, Friday, April 15, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

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Clashes broke out after some Palestinians finished their prayers and began marching in the area near the Mosque chanting “with our souls, with our blood, we sacrifice for you, Al-Aqsa.”

The marchers also allegedly expressed their support for Hamas – the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza but is defined as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.

It is unclear what sparked the clashes, but Israeli police said they responded to the violence and arrested “hundreds” of suspects. The mosque was then re-opened for midday prayers with some 60,000 in attendance. 

Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City Friday, April 15, 2022. 

Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City Friday, April 15, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

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Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) called the clash a “desecration of the holy values ​​of Muslims” and alleged it was “carried out by the Zionist regime’s military and security forces by deploying military equipment and brutally attacking defenseless Palestinian worshipers,” according to a translated statement by the Tasnim News Agency, a private Iranian news outlet.

The IRGC also promised a “new wave” of support for Palestinians rising up against Israel. It accused the Israeli state of “aggressive actions and new crimes.”

Recent clashes in Israel have raised concerns that the region could see another security escalation similar to the 11-day conflict that occurred in May 2021 and resulted in the death of over 200 Israelis and Palestinians – the majority of which died in the Gaza Strip.   

Iran has long backed Hamas and has helped train and provide military support for the Islamic militants in their fight against Israel.

But current negotiations with the U.S. and other western nations regarding a nuclear deal in exchange for sanction relief may require Tehran to cut its known ties to terrorist organizations in the Middle East. 

Israeli security forces take position during clashes with Palestinians demonstrators at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, Friday, April 15, 2022. 

Israeli security forces take position during clashes with Palestinians demonstrators at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, Friday, April 15, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

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Talks appear to have stalled, but reporting surfaced last month that said the U.S. may consider removing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard from its list of designated terrorist groups in exchange for regional peace. 

It remains unclear how Tehran will respond to these negotiation demands, but security officials and scientists alike have warned the administration to be wary of false assurances.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.  

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