Clashes erupt at Al-Aqsa compound after settler tour

JERUSALEM (AA): Clashes erupted between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli forces at East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday during a settler tour at the flashpoint site, according to Palestinian officials.

“Some 1,179 Jewish extremists stormed the compound since morning,” Omar Kiswani, director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, told Anadolu Agency.

“In a massive violation of the holy month of Ramadan, the settlers broke into the compound through Al-Mugharbah gate under the protection of Israeli police,” he said.

Hundreds of worshippers chanted Allahu Akbar (God is the Greatest) in an expression of anger as settlers were allowed into the compound, the Jerusalem Waqf (religious endowments) Agency said in a statement.

Israeli police chased and assaulted a number of worshippers, including a mosque guard and banned medics from providing medical help, the agency said.

According to an Anadolu Agency reporter, Israeli police fired teargas and stun bombs and chased worshippers as far as the entrance to the southern ceiled building, where the worshippers barricaded.

Six worshippers were reportedly arrested during the violence.

The agency said Israeli police shut the Al-Aqsa compound’s Al-Mugharbah gate after the clashes.

The Israeli police have yet to issue an official statement on the clashes.

Sunday’s clashes came amid calls by Jewish groups for settlers to converge on the site to mark what they call the “reunification of Jerusalem”.

Israel has illegally occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

In a move never recognized by the international community, Israel annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as the self-proclaimed Jewish state’s “eternal and undivided” capital.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

International law continues to view both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territory.