A large number of Israeli settlers and Israeli police stormed the Dome of the Rock, inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, in the Old City of Jerusalem, on Thursday afternoon.
Head of the public relations office at the Islamic Endowment Department, Firas al-Dibs, confirmed that 41 Israeli settlers and 85 members of the Israeli police force stormed the compound through the Moroccan Gate.
Al-Dibs said, according to Ma’an, that Israeli police were deployed heavily across the area, and that a number of Israeli police stormed the Dome of the Rock mosque, which is situated inside the Al-Aqsa compound, and several Israeli settlers entered into the women’s prayer space, while Muslim women were performing prayers, inside.
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.
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 video below, Israeli settlers are seen inside the women’s prayer space:
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.