By Umar Farooq
WASHINGTON (AA) - The assault on worshippers at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem last week by Israeli forces is yet another sobering reminder of ills afforded by Washington's unwavering support for Israel, a Muslim-American advocacy group said Monday.
Around 16 Palestinians were injured, according to Jerusalem’s Religious Endowments Authority, after Israeli police shut down the compound last Tuesday on claims of an arson attack on an Israeli police station nearby, triggering clashes with angry Palestinians.
Among the victims were three Americans, Safa Hawash, her sister Nour and their mother Germeen Abdelkareem.
“The brutality that happened to Germeen, Safa, and Noor has been done in our name as Americans,” Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy and civil rights group, told reporters at a news conference.
The Israeli soldiers "feel aided, they feel shielded by this government,” Awad said referring to the U.S.
A video posted on Twitter by the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, where Safa and Nour Hawash work, shows an Israeli police officer on top of Nour as the officer handcuffed her.
Safa Hawash said her sister was trying to show her U.S. passport, which the officer threw to the side and said "I don't care about your ID."
“The Dar al-Hijrah community holds our government responsible for making sure that American citizens are protected both at home and abroad,” Saif Rahman, Public and Government Affairs director at the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center said at a news conference.
The sisters' mother was also physically assaulted by Israeli police, according to Hawash.
“This is only a fragment of what Palestinian people have to endure on a daily basis, fighting for the basic right of existence,” Hawash said.
“This incident before us is just another reminder of Israel’s disrespect to the United States and American citizens,” Osama Abuirshaid, National Policy Director for American Muslims for Palestine, said.
Safa Hawash said she notified her congressman, Gerry Connolly, of the incident, but has yet to hear from him.
Tensions have mounted in Jerusalem since last month, when Israeli police briefly sealed the al-Aqsa compound’s al-Rahma prayer area, sparking angry Palestinian demonstrations.
In the weeks since, the Israeli authorities have banned scores of Palestinians -- including religious officials -- from entering al-Aqsa, which for Muslims represents the world’s third holiest site.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.