World Bulletin / News Desk
Dozens of Palestinians have flocked to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound since the early hours of Monday after several extremist Jewish groups had asked followers to force their way into the holy site on the occasion of the Jewish Passover, which begins at sundown Monday.
"Palestinian worshippers from Al-Quds [occupied East Jerusalem] and other areas have been inside the mosque compound since the dawn prayers," Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage said in a statement.
It said the Palestinians had come to defend the mosque, considered Islam's third holiest site, after calls by the so-called Jewish Temple Mount groups to storm the compound and perform sacrificial rituals
"Hundreds of Palestinians are also maintaining a sit-in at Al-Aqsa for the second consecutive day," said the foundation, a Palestinian NGO devoted to defending Al-Aqsa against Israeli violations.
Hundreds performed the Fajr (dawn) prayers outside the compound's gates after being denied access by the Israeli forces, the NGO added.
The sit-in was staged in response to a call by Palestinian groups and leading figures to flock to the holy site to defend it against extremist Jewish groups.
On Friday, the Mufti of Al-Quds Sheikh Mohamed Hussein called on Palestinians to camp out in Al-Aqsa Mosque complex this week following calls by extremist Jewish groups to force their way into the holy site on the occasion of the Jewish Passover.
Hamas and the Islamic Movement in Israel made similar appeals.
Several extremist Jewish groups had urged followers to mark the Passover holiday by storming the mosque complex.
In recent months, groups of extremist Jewish settlers, often accompanied by Israeli security forces, have repeatedly entered 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 refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied Al-Quds 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.
Meanwhile, the Israeli police said its forces have been placed on high alert during the weeklong Passover holiday.
According to the Israeli radio, the police intensified their presence in Al-Quds as well as holiday attractions in Israeli cities.
Security has been beefed up along the Green Line separating the Palestinian territories and Israel, it said.Last Mod: 14 Nisan 2014, 11:00