The Israeli Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Uri Ariel, stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, with dozens of Israeli settlers, on Sunday.
Firas al-Dibs, head of the Public Relations and Media Department at the Islamic Endowment (Waqf), said that Ariel, along with dozens of Israeli settlers, stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound under the heavy protection of Israeli forces.
Al-Dibs also mentioned that Ariel along with the Israeli settlers entered through the Moroccan Gate and toured the compound in a provocative fashion.
Al-Dibs added that a large number of Israeli forces were deployed across the compound.
It is noteworthy that Ariel had previously stormed the compound in September.
The number of Israeli MKs who storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound has increased, over the past few months, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to lift a ban that previously disallowed Israeli Knesset members to visit the compound, after such incursions were banned in October of 2015.
According to Ma’an, Netanyahu allowed members of the Knesset, mostly right-wing extremists, who support the demolition of the Islamic site in order to build a Jewish temple instead, to visit the compound once every three months.
After Netanyahu lifted the ban, Palestinian Authority (PA) spokesman Youssef al-Mahmoud spoke out about the decision, calling it a “serious provocation” and “encouraging harm to one of Islam’s holiest sites.”
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.
While Jewish visitation is permitted to the compound, non-Muslim worship at Al-Aqsa is prohibited according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.
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