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World leaders condemn Israeli raid on Al-Aqsa Mosque

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau slams 'inflamed rhetoric' of Israeli government, while Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls attack a 'Red Line'
Israeli security forces remove Palestinian Muslim worshippers sitting on grounds of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, on 5 April 2023 during Islam's holy month of Ramadan (AFP)

Leaders around the world condemned the brutal attack by Israeli forces on Palestinian worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem for the second night in a row, as fears grow of an escalation in violence. 

Dozens of armed Israeli officers entered the site while nearly 20,000 worshippers were still performing the Ramadan Taraweeh night prayer. 

The raid is the second by Israeli forces. On Tuesday night, Dozens of heavily armed officers stormed the site, used stun grenades and fired tear gas into the Qibli prayer hall - the building with the silver dome - where hundreds of men, women, elderly people, and children were staying overnight to pray. Some eyewitnesses said rubber-coated steel bullets were also fired. 

On Wednesday, the White House said it was "extremely concerned" by the continuing violence and urged all sides to avoid further escalation.

”It's imperative, now more than ever, that both Israelis and Palestinians work together to de-escalate this tension and to restore a sense of calm,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was "shocked and appalled" by images of Israeli security forces beating people inside the mosque.

Videos from inside the mosque showed Israeli officers repeatedly hitting people with batons while they appeared to be lying on the floor. Meanwhile, cries for help from women and children could be heard in the background. 

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Guterres viewed images of the "violence and beating" within the holy site, and found it more distressing because it came "at a time of a calendar which is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims that should be a time for peace and nonviolence".

"Places of worship should only be used for peaceful religious observances," he added.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country and Israel have been working to rebuild frayed ties, said: "Trampling on the Al-Aqsa Mosque is our red line.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government was "extremely concerned with the inflamed rhetoric coming out of the Israeli government".

“We need to see the Israeli government shifting in its approach," said Trudeau. "We need to see a de-escalation of violence and people should be living in peace and prosperity in the region."

The comments come on the back of widespread condemnation of Israel's Tuesday night raid from the Arab world. 

The UAE said Israel's actions risked "exacerbating tension and instability in the region". 

The Arab League condemned the assault. 

"The extremist approaches that control the policy of the Israeli government will lead to widespread confrontations with the Palestinians if they are not put to an end," Arab League secretary-general Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in a statement.

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