World Bulletin/News Desk
Around 300 Jewish settlers forced their way into East Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound over the past week, including 160 on Thursday alone, a Palestinian NGO said Thursday.
Settlers entered the mosque compound in small groups, ranging from five to nine people each, and under heavy protection by Israeli security forces, the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowments and Heritage, a Palestinian NGO, said in a statement.
It added that Palestinian Muslims – both men and women – had also made their presence felt at the site, either by praying at the mosque or attending religious lectures in the mosque compound.
The foundation noted that mosque guards and other Palestinians had managed to foil repeated attempts by Jewish settlers to perform Jewish rituals in the mosque compound.
Israelis began celebrating Hanukkah, or "the Festival of Lights," on Wednesday. Celebrations are expected to last for one week, which could explain the presence of large numbers of Jewish settlers inside the mosque compound.
Some Jewish organizations had called on settlers to storm the Al-Aqsa compound, especially on Sunday and Monday, according to the Palestinian NGO.
Israeli police spokesperson Luba Samri, for her part, said Israeli police had detained seven people – including four Jews and three Arabs – near the Al-Aqsa Mosque following altercations between them.
She said the detainees had been referred to investigators, adding that nobody had been injured in the clashes.
Samri added that a Jewish suspect had also been detained in the vicinity of the mosque for violating the mosque compound's visiting rules.
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