Dozens of Israeli settlers stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, under armed security by the Israeli police, on Wednesday, ahead of the Jewish holiday of Tisha Bâ€™Av.
Tisha Bâ€™Av notably commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temple, which Jews believe were located where Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam, now stands.
Local witnesses told Ma’an that dozens of Israeli settlers escorted by Israeli police stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque through the Moroccan Gate, which Israeli forces have taken under their control since the beginning of occupation.
Eyewitnesses added that the raids were in the form of consecutive large groups of Israeli settlers entering the compound.
Meanwhile, Israeli police forces were deployed across the entire compound and at the entrance gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque, confiscating ID cards from Palestinian youths and women, in order to allow them entry into the compound.
Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for the Islamic Endowment (Waqf) told Ma’an that by 9:15 am on Wednesday, 237 right-wing Israeli settlers entered through the Moroccan Gate and toured the Al-Aqsa compound.
He added that many of the Israeli settlers were performing religious rites during the incursion.
While Jewish visitation is permitted to the compound, non-Muslim worship is prohibited according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israelâ€™s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.
Despite the agreement with Jordan — which is the custodian of Al-Aqsa — Israeli authorities regularly allow Jewish visitors to enter the site, often under armed guard. Such visits are typically made by right-wingers attempting to unsettle the status quo at the site, and coincide with restrictions on Palestinian access, including bans on entrance and detentions.
In the two videos below, large groups of Israeli settlers are seen being escorted by Israeli police into the compound:
(Al Ray archive image)