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Iran has accused Israel of “Zionist” aggression after clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israelis on Friday at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.
More than 150 Palestinians have been injured after thousands of people gathered to pray at the holy site during the month of Ramadan – one of the most violent clashes since the Israeli-Palestinian crisis last summer.
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Clashes erupted after some Palestinians finished their prayers and started marching in the area near the mosque chanting “with our souls, with our blood, we sacrifice ourselves for you, Al-Aqsa”.
The marchers also reportedly expressed support for Hamas – the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza but is defined as a terrorist organization by the US government.
It’s unclear what sparked the clashes, but Israeli police said they responded to the violence and arrested “hundreds” of suspects. The mosque was then reopened for midday prayers with some 60,000 people in attendance.
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Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) called the clash “a desecration of the sacred values of Muslims” and alleged that it was “carried out by the Zionist regime’s army and security forces by deploying military equipment and brutally attacking helpless Palestinian worshippers”. according to a translated statement from the Tasnim news agency, a private Iranian media.
The IRGC has also promised a “new wave” of support for Palestinians rising up against Israel. He accused the Israeli state of “aggressive actions and new crimes”.
Recent clashes in Israel have raised fears that the region could experience a further escalation in security similar to the 11-day conflict that occurred in May 2021 and resulted in the deaths of more than 200 Israelis and Palestinians – the majority of whom are died in the Gaza Strip.
Iran has long supported Hamas and has helped train and provide military support to Islamic militants in their fight against Israel.
But ongoing negotiations with the United States and other Western nations over a nuclear deal in return for sanctions relief could force Tehran to sever known ties to terrorist organizations in the Middle East.
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Talks appear to have stalled, but reports surfaced last month that the United States may consider removing Iran’s Revolutionary Guards from its list of designated terrorist groups in exchange for regional peace.
It remains unclear how Tehran will respond to these negotiating demands, but security officials and scientists have warned the administration to beware of false assurances.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.