World Bulletin / News Desk
“Four other guards were rounded up from their homes at dawn on Tuesday,” Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a Jordan-run organization responsible for overseeing the city’s Islamic sites, told Anadolu Agency.
“Three others were detained on Monday after they prevented a Jewish archaeologist from stealing an ancient stone from inside the mosque,” he said.
Al-Dibs said the archaeologist had allegedly attempted twice to steal the stone under the protection of Israeli police, triggering clashes between the guards and Israeli forces.
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.
In September 2000, a visit to Al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the "Second Intifada," a five-year-long popular uprising in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Middle East War. It formally annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as its capital in a move never recognized by the international community.