On Monday, dozens of Israeli settlers, heavily guarded by Israeli police, stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied Jerusalem today and performed rituals, according to witnesses.
They said fanatic settlers, accompanied by a police escort, entered the holy compound in groups in the early morning and performed rituals, and walked through the Islamic holy site. There were no reports of clashes with worshipers at the holy site.
Located in occupied Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site for Muslims. It was also Islam’s first Qibla -the direction towards which Muslims must turn to pray- before that was changed to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.
Israeli far-right activists have repeatedly pushed for an increased Jewish presence at Al-Aqsa, despite a joint guardianship agreement between Israel and Jordan.
Settlers backed by Israeli forces regularly break into Al-Aqsa Mosque to tour the Dome of the Rock, a shrine built in the 7th century by the Umayyad caliphate on Moriah Mount, and perform prayers on the site.
Jerusalem’s Islamic Waqf, which manages the Al-Aqsa Mosque, has repeatedly described the settlers’ tours as “provocative” and said that Palestinian worshipers and guards at Al-Aqsa feel uncomfortable with the presence of Israeli police and settlers touring the Muslim holy site.
In a move never recognized by the international community, Israel captured East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa Mosque is located, during the Six-Day War in 1967.