World Bulletin/News Desk
Over 300 Jewish settlers on Wednesday forced their way into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound under the protection of Israeli police before the latter closed the area off to the settlers amid mounting tensions at the holy site.
The settlers' entry into the area, which triggered clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian Muslim worshippers, represents "an unacceptable escalation," Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, director-general of the Organization for Muslim Endowments and Al-Aqsa Affairs (run by the Jordanian government), told Anadolu Agency.
In a statement, the Israeli police said they had closed the compound to settlers following the clashes that had erupted at the site earlier between Palestinians and Israeli troops.
But according to witnesses, it was Israeli police that had facilitated the settlers' intrusion into the compound.
At least three Turkish nationals were injured in the violence.
"Israeli police assaulted a group of Turkish nationals inside the [Al-Aqsa] complex, injuring three of them," Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage spokesman Mahmoud Abu Atta told Anadolu Agency.
The trio was taken to Jerusalem's Al-Makassed Hospital for treatment, he said, giving no details regarding the seriousness of the injuries.
A Palestinian compound guard told AA that a number of worshippers remained trapped inside the compound's Al-Qibali Mosque, including a number of Turkish nationals who had come in the early hours of Wednesday to perform prayers.
The developments come as Israel marks its so-called "Jerusalem Day," which is celebrated every year on Iyar 28 of the Hebrew calendar, to commemorate the "reunification" of the holy city in June 1967 when it was captured by Israeli forces.
In recent months, groups of extremist Jewish settlers, often accompanied by Israeli security forces, have repeatedly forced their way into the Al-Aqsa 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 in a move never recognized by the international community.Last Mod: 28 Mayıs 2014, 13:58