Israeli forces close Al-Aqsa Mosque amid increasing tensions with worshippers

Israeli forces reportedly sealed off all entrances to #AlAqsa Mosque compound in the Old City in East #Jerusalem on Tuesday, amid increasing tensions with Palestinian worshippers.
Footage shows Israeli security scuffling with Palestinian worshippers, and emergency services carrying the injured away.

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ISIS Is Still Attacking Mosul, 18 Months After The City Was Liberated (HBO)

Rajab Younes Rajab walks through the ruins of Mosul’s Old City, pointing at homes where his friends used to live. “I saw people dying in front of me and I couldn’t help them,” he says. During the 2017 battle to recapture the city from ISIS, the west of the city was decimated, killing thousands. Homes and businesses were also destroyed — and Rajab’s home was no different.

Rajab says he’s still haunted by what he witnessed – he has insomnia and still mourns the friends he lost in the battle. ‘I used to see my friends more than I saw my family,’ he says tearily.

For him, returning to rebuild the family home was something he initially refused to do. But his father, Younes, couldn’t keep paying for rented accommodation elsewhere. Remarkably, some eighteen months since the city was liberated, theirs is the first home in the neighborhood to be completed – but Rajab isn’t in the mood for celebrating.

‘One of the reasons is the number of tragedies I’ve seen here,’ he says. ‘Perhaps no one’s ever witnessed what I did. ‘As soon as I leave the house, I thought I was going to die. I was targeted by a sniper more than six times. He almost killed me the last time.’

Rajab shares the anger of many here in Mosul’s Old City – a growing annoyance at the slow pace of reconstruction in the city and the apparent lack of government money to help residents rebuild. His father used the family savings to complete the project. ‘Nothing has changed here, two years after the liberation. When they published Iraq’s draft 2019 budget, Mosul got one percent,’ Rajab says.

The city may have been liberated nearly 18 months ago – but ISIS is still a looming threat here. Four teenagers were killed on their way to school two weeks ago, and a car bomb outside a popular restaurant in the city a month ago, killed three. But the authorities are keen to downplay ISIS’ presence, blaming political elements for the recent violence.

For the older generation like his father, returning home has been the priority. Of the current security situation in the city, Younes says, ‘Some incidents happen here and there but the state is in control. I’m not worried at all.’

Listening to his father, Rajab shakes his head angrily. He believes if things don’t improve soon, the city’s youth could be lured back into ISIS’ grasp. ‘It’s not safe at all. I am worried about my own life. I’m worried about my family when even now, ISIS members and leaders are still here. I was surprised by the recent explosions. It means there are sleeper cells. The government should stop them and stop them from expanding again.’

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Famed Iraqi cellist performs in Mosul’s battered Old City

Famed Iraqi maestro and cello player Karim Wasfi performs in Mosul’s war-ravaged Old City. Wasfi is known for turning up with his cello to play in the aftermath of bombings in the capital Baghdad, alleviating pain through the soothing power of music.

Inside The Killing Rooms Of Mosul (HBO)

MOSUL, Iraq — In March, VICE returned to Mosul for the first time since the war against ISIS was declared over eight months ago.

While life may be returning to normal in the eastern half of the city, on the other side of the river — where the fighting was most intense — the scale of rebuilding that needs to be done is monumental. It’s estimated there are still 8 million tons of conflict debris that need to be moved before reconstruction can start, equivalent to three times the size of the Great Pyramid of Egypt. About 75 percent of that rubble is in West Mosul, and it’s mixed with so much unexploded ordnance that experts say this is now one of the most contaminated spots on the planet.

In the Old City, where ISIS made its last stand, residents have slowly started to come back – a few business owners hoping to repair shops, and families who have no other option but to live in their damaged homes. Some water tanks have been trucked in, and electricity cables have been temporarily patched together along some streets, but the place feels deserted, and in some ways the scene was not that different from how it looked shortly after the fighting.

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Damascus Old City residents in fear over recent mortar strikes

Mortar rounds fired from rebel and jihadist-held areas near Damascus have been hitting the regime-controlled Old City of the Syrian capital in recent days, with some shopkeepers their businesses temporarily and residents trying to cope. The rounds fired in recent days come amid heavy regime air strikes on the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, that killed at least 18 civilians.

‘Rip open the skies!’ Israeli minister holds mass prayer to end drought

Thousands of Jews gathered to pray for rain at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, on Thursday. Despite receiving criticism for relying on prayer in a secular government, Israel’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Uri Ariel initiated the prayer event as the country enters it’s fifth consecutive year of diminishing rainfall. It was led by Israel’s Chief Rabbis, Rabbi David Lau and Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef. READ MORE: https://on.rt.com/8vji

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