World Bulletin / News Desk
Scores of Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers on Wednesday forced their way into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem, a Palestinian official has said.
"A least 50 Jewish settlers stormed the holy compound through the Al-Magharbeh Gate under Israeli police protection," Sheikh Omar al-Qiswani, the Palestinian director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, told Anadolu Agency.
He said that hundreds of Palestinian worshipers had stood up to the settlers after the latter tried to perform Talmudic rituals near the Al-Rahmeh Gate.
"They wandered through the compound's courtyards from the Al-Magharbeh Gate, passing through the Qibali and Marawani mosques before departing from the Al-Silsila Gate," al-Qiswani added.
Meanwhile, Israeli police stepped up security at the entrances of the holy site, preventing men under 40 years old from entering the compound.
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 prominent 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 – a move never recognized by the international community.
In September 2000, a visit to the site by controversial Israeli leader Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the "Second Intifada" – a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed and injured.Last Mod: 17 Eylül 2014, 14:24