Palestinians brought explosives to al-Aqsa in last week's riots - police chief

The Shin Bet is reportedly investigating the entry of explosives to the mosque.

 The aftermath of clashes with the police in the al-Aqsa mosque, April 5, 2023. (photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
The aftermath of clashes with the police in the al-Aqsa mosque, April 5, 2023.

Palestinians who barricaded themselves in al-Aqsa mosque last week brought explosives into the mosque, Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai told KAN news on Sunday evening.

The Shin Bet is reportedly investigating the explosives being brought into the mosque, with defense sources telling Ynet that the investigation is "complicated and complex."

Shabtai stated that there were over 400 people who barricaded themselves in the mosque last Tuesday, bringing fireworks, explosives and stones into the building.

Police then entered al-Aqsa, firing stun grenades and trying to remove the people barricaded inside. Palestinians in the mosque fired fireworks and threw stones at the Israeli forces. Dozens of Palestinians were reportedly injured or arrested in the clashes.

Footage from the scene published by Palestinian media showed police officers hitting Palestinians in the building with chairs and batons and arresting many of them.

Clashes at al-Aqsa mosque, April 5, 2023 (Credit: Israel Police)

A few hours after the clashes, 10 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward southern Israel, followed by further rocket fire in the next two days from Gaza and Lebanon toward Israel.

Shabtai says police are investigating the conduct of officers in the al-Aqsa raid

When asked by KAN about the conduct of police during the clashes at al-Aqsa last Tuesday, Shabtai stressed that the officers were forced to use "force of a somewhat higher degree" due to the complete barricade of the doors of the mosque and the fireworks fired toward them by the rioters.

"Am I happy about the photos that came out of there? No. We are investigating the incident, we will learn from it, understand what happened there, but all in all, you saw some small point within the complex of a very, very large amount of police who entered and treated the incident with respect," said the police chief. "The ones who disgraced the site are not the police officers who entered there."

Shabtai claimed that many of the senior officials in the police "do not remember such a quiet Ramadan in its first two weeks [as this one]," citing undisturbed commerce at a market at the Damascus Gate.

The police chief referred to the fact that the situation on the Temple Mount on Saturday night and Sunday was calm, adding that he believes that the raid last week deterred the group who barricaded themselves in the mosque on Saturday night from committing violence.

Shabtai added that he did not consider canceling Jewish visits to the Temple Mount on Sunday morning, saying there was consensus in allowing the visits.

Since the month of Ramadan began, police have repeatedly removed Palestinians who attempted to stay overnight in the mosque, citing an agreement police say they reached with the Jordanian Waqf against such stays and concerns that the Palestinians were preparing to attack Jews who visit the site on weekday mornings.