World Bulletin / News Desk
Scores of Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Wednesday, a Palestinian official said.
“At least 20 settlers in groups forced their way into the holy compound through al-Mugharbeh Gate under the protection of Israeli police,” Sheikh Omar Al-Qiswani, Director of Al-Aqsa mosque, told Anadolu Agency. “The settlers toured in the complex, passing through al-Qibali mosque and the Dome of the Rock before leaving.”
He added that Muslim worshipers stood still against the settlers and shouted "God is great."
As many as 30 Israeli soldiers stormed the compound from several gates to provoke the Muslim worshipers, an Al-Aqsa guard told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity.
"Tensions have been running high in Al-Aqsa since the morning. Israeli police imposed strict measures outside the gates of Al-Aqsa, where they check worshipers' identity cards before allowing them to enter,” he said.
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 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 politician 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.
On Tuesday night, Israeli army forces detained 17 Palestinians in raids carried out in several provinces of the occupied West Bank, eyewitnesses said.
In a statement, the Israeli army said it detained 14 Palestinians suspected of involvement in "terror attacks targeted (Israeli) security personnel and civilians."
Three others were detained on charges of being members of the Palestinian group Hamas. Another Palestinian was detained from the Old City of al-Khalil (Hebron).
Eyewitnesses told Anadolu Agency that scores of Israeli forces stormed several places in the southern West Bank cities of al-Khalil and Bethlehem and arrested eight Palestinians after raiding their homes.
“Israeli troops detained six other Palestinians from the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Jericho after raiding their homes," they said. “Three others were arrested from the northern West Bank cities of Qalqiliya and Jenin.”
The Israeli arrests come a day before the beginning of Ramadan amid difficult living conditions in the West Bank.
Hasan Amor, one of the detainees' fathers, told Anadolu Agency that the Israeli army detained his son Mohammad after searching and raiding the house.
“He helped throughout the night in preparation for the holy month of Ramadan,” he said. “We were planning to go to taraweeh prayers together this year.”
“I hope he will be free before the end of Ramadan,” he added.
Israeli forces sporadically raid Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank and detain local Palestinians, claiming the latter are wanted by Israeli security agencies.
Over 6,500 Palestinians are currently languishing in prisons throughout Israel, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs.Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Haziran 2015, 17:34