Palestine: 2100 Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa complex
By Zain Khalil
JERUSALEM (AA): More than 2,100 Israeli settlers forced their way into the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex on Sunday, according to a Palestinian agency.
In a statement, the Islamic Endowment Department in Jerusalem said that 2,100 settlers with Israeli soldiers broke into the complex through its Israeli-controlled Al-Mughrabi Gate, southwest of the mosque, and performed their rituals inside.
According to eyewitnesses, groups of settlers attempted to storm the complex through the Bab Huta Gate and King Faisal Gate but were confronted by Palestinian worshippers.
The soldiers assaulted dozens of worshippers, before surrounding the al-Qibli mosque in the Al-Aqsa compound and cut its wires to prevent the calls for prayer.
Eyewitnesses said the soldiers surrounded the al-Qibli mosque while dozens of worshippers were in it, and sealed its gate with iron chains, before assaulting dozens of Palestinians in Al-Aqsa, and abducted many others.
The Islamic Waqf Department in Jerusalem said the invasion was led by the head of the right-wing Otzma Yehudit party, Itamar Ben-Gvir, and the right-wing Likud member and former Member of Knesset Yehuda Glick.
It added that the soldiers and the police started assaulting the Palestinian worshipers in the holy site, and forced many of them away, in addition to abducting many others.
The soldiers also fired gas bombs and concussion grenades at the worshipers and chased many of them away.
Earlier Sunday, Israeli forces shut all entrances and gates to the Al-Aqsa complex.
Israeli settler groups have called on supporters to force their way into Al-Aqsa complex in large numbers on Sunday to mark what they call the “destruction of the temple” in ancient times.
The so-called Sovereignty Movement in Israel is also preparing to organize a march for settlers around the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem on the same day.
On Saturday, hundreds of settlers staged a march in occupied East Jerusalem ahead of their planned incursions on Sunday.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move never recognized by the international community.
* Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara
[Photo: Hundreds of Israeli settlers march from Damascus Gate to the Western Wall, which is the southwest wall of Masjid al-Aqsa, on the day of mourning, which they called “Tisha BeAv”, in Jerusalem on July 17, 2021. Photographer: Mostafa Alkharouf/AA]
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