Palestine: Over 1,100 Israeli settlers storm Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa complex
By Abdelraouf Arnaout
JERUSALEM (AA): More than 1,100 Israeli settlers forced their way into the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem on Wednesday, according to a Palestinian agency.
In a statement, the Jordan-run Islamic Waqf Department, which oversees holy sites in Jerusalem, said 1,180 settlers stormed the site and stayed there for more than three hours.
Ahead of the settler incursion, Israeli police stormed the complex and evacuated worshipers from inside the site, according to eyewitnesses.
Witnesses said dozens of police forces were deployed inside the mosque courtyard before settlers were allowed into the site.
Police forcibly evacuated Muslim worshipers from the mosque courtyard before allowing settlers to move through in groups, they added.
According to witnesses, police used rubber bullets to disperse angry Palestinians, who protested against the settler incursions into the Al-Aqsa complex. At least one Palestinian was reportedly injured.
Hundreds of Israeli settlers have stormed the flashpoint compound since Sunday under heavy police protection to celebrate the week-long Jewish Passover holiday.
The Israeli police, meanwhile, imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian youths to Al-Aqsa Mosque to perform the dawn prayer.
Tension has mounted across the Palestinian territories since last week when Israeli forces raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyards and attacked worshipers, injuring hundreds.
Daily settler incursions into the flashpoint site to celebrate the Passover holiday have further inflamed the situation.
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.
* Writing by Mahmoud Barakat and Ahmed Asmar
[Photo: Earlier on 18 April, Jewish settlers escorted by Israeli forces entered Al-Aqsa Mosque compound after police drove out Palestinian worshippers following fajr [morning] prayer, in East Jerusalem on April 18, 2022. Photographer: Mostafa Alkharouf/AA]
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