Palestine: Over a thousand Israelis storm Al-Aqsa Mosque complex
By Abdelraouf Arnaout
JERUSALEM (AA, Wafa News Agency): Hundreds of Israeli settlers forced their way into the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday, according to a Palestinian agency.
In a brief statement, the Jordan-run Islamic Waqf Department, which oversees holy sites in Jerusalem, said 1032 settlers stormed the flashpoint site in groups under police protection.
The intrusions come as settlers celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, a week-long festival that began on Monday.
Palestinian President’s Spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in a press statement that the ongoing settler raids, under police protection, into the mosque courtyards are part of the Israeli escalation against the Palestinian people and its holy sites and constitute an attempt to “create a new de facto situation”, which would never be allowed.
He warned that the ongoing escalatory Israeli practices against the holy sites in the occupied city will lead only to tension, further violence and destabilization as he held the Israeli government fully responsible for this grave escalation along with its ramifications.
A week after Jewish settlers had desecrated the Ibrahimi Mosque in the southern West Bank city of Hebron with singing and dancing, settles Tuesday desecrated the Muslim holy book, the Quran, burning copies, tearing them and then trashing them near the Ibrahimi Mosque, according to a local official.
Nidal Jaabari, Director of the Hebron Waqf department, told WAFA that settlers tore and burnt copies of the Quran and then threw them in the trash near the Ibrahimi Mosque in the old town of Hebron, which is under full Israeli military rule and where several hardcore settlement enclaves are located, considering this act as an affront to Muslims and Islam.
Israel usually closes the Ibrahimi Mosque, also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs, to Muslims during Jewish holidays and allows only Jews to be present in it.
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.
Since 2003, Israel has allowed settlers into the compound almost daily.
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.
* Ikram Imane Kouachi contributed to this report
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