JERUSALEM (AA): Hundreds of Jewish settlers forced their way into East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Wednesday, according to a Palestinian official.
“Over 542 Jewish extremists stormed the compound since morning,” Al-Aqsa Mo-sque Director Omar Kiswani told Anadolu Agency.
He said the settlers broke into the compound through Al-Mugharbah gate under the protection of Israeli security forces.
“The settlers toured the compound and preformed Talmudic rituals near the Dome of the Rock mosque,” he said. Kiswani said Israeli police restricted the entry of Muslim men into the compound by confiscating their ID cards at the mosque gates.
Since Friday, over 2,040 Israeli settlers forced their way into the compound as part of celebrations of the Jewish Passover holiday, which ends on April 7.
Passover, which commemorates the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt during the time of Prophet Moses, is considered one of the most important holidays on the Jewish religious calendar.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount”, claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the Jewish state in a move never recognized by the international community.