World Bulletin / News Desk
Scores of Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers on Thursday forced their way into occupied East Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound following calls by Jewish extremist groups to converge on the holy site, a Palestinian official has said.
"At least 80 Jewish settlers, backed by Israeli police, forced their way into the mosque compound through the Al-Mugharbeh Gate," mosque director Sheikh Omar al-Qiswani told Anadolu Agency.
"The settlers toured the complex, passing by the Al-Qibali and Dome of the Rock mosques, where they attempted to perform Talmudic rituals before leaving through the Al-Silsila and Al-Rahemah gates," he said.
Al-Qiswani added that Israeli troops had assaulted a number of Palestinian women near the Hotta Gate and barred them from entering the mosque compound.
For the last three months, Israeli police have barred at least 60 female Palestinian residents of Jerusalem from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque for "security reasons".
Tension has run high at the mosque complex since Wednesday, when extremist Jewish groups began calling on followers to mark the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah -- which begins next Sunday -- by converging on the flashpoint holy site.
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 popular uprising against Israel's decades-long occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem -- in which 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.Last Mod: 03 Aralık 2015, 13:03