Dozens of Israeli Foreign Ministry personnel on Tuesday forced their way into Al-Aqsa Mosque complex under the heavy protection of the Israeli police, a Palestinian official said.
"Around 45 Israeli officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque compound through Al-Magharbeh Gate," General Director of Muslim Endowments and Al-Aqsa Affairs Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib told The Anadolu Agency.
"The officials wandered around the compound and tried to approach the Dome of the Rock [Mosque]. However, Muslim worshipers stood up against them," he said.
The Israeli officials were escorted by more than 20 Israeli policemen to secure their incursion, he added.
Moreover, around 50 Jewish extremists stormed the holy site from Al-Silsila and Al-Mgharbeh gates, but no clashes were reported.
In recent months, groups of extremist Jewish settlers – often accompanied by Israeli security forces – have repeatedly forced their way into the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.
The frequent violations anger Palestinian Muslims and occasionally lead to violent confrontations.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state in a move never recognized by the international community.
In September 2000, a visit to Al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the "Second Intifada," a popular uprising against Israel's decades-long occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.
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