Tens of thousands of Jewish Israeli settlers are known to have raided the Al-Aqsa in 2017, Anadolu reported. The Director of Islamic Endowment and Al-Aqsa Affairs Department gave the figure on Monday, as 25,630 extremist Jews were documented as having taken part in incursions at the holy site in occupied Jerusalem.

“The number of such extremists raiding Al-Aqsa Mosque hit a new high last year,” said Shaikh Azzam Al-Khatib. He suggested, according to the PNN, that opinions expressed by a number of rabbis calling for raids on the mosque could be the reason for the sharp increase. “Official protection from the Israeli security forces also has something to do with it,” the Palestinian official added.

Al-Khatib warned that these incursions, which are supported by the Israeli government, are intended to change the status of Al-Aqsa Mosque. In the wake of the 1967 Six-Day War, Jordan was given guardianship of the holy sites in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem.

Since 2003, though, Israeli occupation security forces have been protecting settlers and their incursions, which normally take place through Al-Magharbeh Gate, which is located in the Western Wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Israel has controlled this gate since 1967.

Both the Palestinian Authority and Jordan have called for Israel to stop these raids, but the government in Tel Aviv has refused. In 2016, more than 16,000 extremist Jewish settlers raided Al-Aqsa Mosque. The raids tend to increase in number and participation during Jewish holidays, when the Israeli police impose strict restrictions on the use of the mosque by Muslim worshippers.

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