World Bulletin/News Desk
Dozens of Jewish extremists backed by Israeli police on Wednesday stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem, a Palestinian official has said.
"Around 40 settlers, under Israeli police protection, forced their way into the Al-Aqsa compound through the Al-Magharbeh Gate," Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Jordan-run Organization for Muslim Endowments and Al-Aqsa Affairs, told Anadolu Agency.
"The intruders, including members of the extremist 'Women for the Temple' organization, were led by hardline rabbis and wandered into the courtyards of the holy site," he said.
"The rabbis gave settlers lessons in the Talmud near the Al-Qiballi and Marwani mosques," he added.
A handful of extremist settlers – also under Israeli police protection – performed Talmudic rituals near the Al-Rahmeh Gate, according to the Palestinian official.
In response, a number of Palestinian religious students stood up to the settlers amid mounting tension in the mosque complex, al-Khatib said.
In recent months, groups of extremist Jewish settlers – often accompanied by Israeli security forces – have repeatedly forced their way into East Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.
The frequent violations anger Palestinian Muslims and occasionally lead to violent confrontations.
Last week, scores of Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces inside the mosque compound.
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 prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.
In September 2000, a visit to the site by controversial Israeli leader Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the "Second Intifada" – a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Ekim 2014, 15:19