JERUSALEM: Hundreds of Israelis entered Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the eve of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah, which marks the start of the Jewish new year, on Wednesday, under the protection of armed Israeli forces.
Rami al-Khatib, an employee of the Islamic trust, or Waqf, which manages the holy site, said that 241 Israeli “settlers” had “raided” Al-Aqsa Mosque compound via the Moroccan Gate in the morning and afternoon.
Following Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, and subsequent annexation, Israel has maintained a compromise with the Islamic trust not to not allow non-Muslim prayers in the area. However, non-Muslims are permitted to enter and visit the holy compound during designated hours.
Israeli forces nonetheless regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, who often times carry out prayers in an attempt to challenge the status quo at Al-Aqsa, leading to tensions with Palestinian worshipers.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque. The third holiest site in Islam, it is also venerated as Judaism’s most holy place, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces banned the head of Sharia (Islamic) education at Al-Aqsa Sheikh Najeh Bkeirat from entering Al-Aqsa for three months, according al-Khatib.
Scores of Palestinians have been temporarily banned from entering the holy site in recent weeks, with many Palestinians being targeted following a mass civil disobedience campaign in occupied East Jerusalem in July following the imposition of unprecedented security restrictions at Al-Aqsa.
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