Walid al-Sharif, 21, who was allegedly injured by Israeli police, is in critical condition as tensions escalate in Jerusalem.
A 21-year-old Palestinian man has fallen into a coma and is in critical condition after suffering a serious head injury at the al-Aqsa mosque complex on Friday, his family say.
Walid al-Sharif is fighting for his life amid a tense situation with Israeli troops attacking worshipers at the al-Aqsa compound on an almost daily basis, as the holy Muslim month of Ramadan nears its end.
His family and eyewitnesses alleged that Walid al-Sharif was hit in the head or neck by a sponge-tipped bullet fired by Israeli police in the early hours of Friday.
However, Israeli police claimed that al-Sharif, a resident of Jerusalem’s Old City, fell and suffered a head injury while pelting stones at him.
Early Friday, Israeli police raided the al-Aqsa mosque complex, Islam’s third holiest site. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, al-Sharif was one of 57 Palestinians injured in the police action.
He was taken to Hadassah An Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem, which said in a statement that “there was no evidence of injury from live ammunition”.
‘May Allah help him now’
A member of the Israeli Knesset Ahmed Tibi, who visited al-Sharif at the hospital, said his condition was critical after “suffering from extensive brain damage”.
Al-Sharif’s brother told the Israeli Haaretz daily that his condition had worsened overnight.
“He is in a coma, with no oxygen reaching his brain and bleeding on his brain and fractured skull,” he said, adding that doctors had exhausted his treatment options. They said, “We are just waiting and only Allah can help him.”
Israeli officials prepare for a demonstration by Israeli Palestinian citizens who stand in solidarity with their compatriots across the Green Line, a 1967 ceasefire line. Cities such as Nazareth and Umm al-Fahm have seen protests over violence against worshipers in the al-Aqsa compound.
The al-Aqsa mosque complex is a frequent flashpoint of tension as more Israeli Jews attempt to maintain the status quo by praying there.
The silver-domed mosque inside the 35-acre complex is known as Al-Haram al-Sharif or Noble Sanctuary by Muslims and Temple Mount by Jews.
Last year, attacks on worshipers and attempts to drive Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah-occupied East Jerusalem culminated in an 11-day war on Gaza.
Jerusalem has been a tinderbox in recent weeks as the Ramadan, Easter and Passover holidays attracted thousands of holy sites, and Israeli forces attempted to block Palestinians – Christians and Muslims – from accessing their holy sites.
Tensions have risen in the occupied West Bank even after 16 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces between April 5 and 22. At least three Israelis were also killed during this period, and 945 Palestinians and 23 Israelis were injured, according to a United Nations tally.
Israel twice last week carried out airstrikes in various areas of the besieged Gaza Strip.
On April 22, an 18-year-old Palestinian man succumbed to wounds on April 9, the United Nations said. He was shot by Israeli forces during a search-and-arrest operation at al-Yamun in the Jenin region.