Nearly a hundred Israeli settlers have once again stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in the Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds amid simmering tensions between Israeli military forces and Palestinian protesters in the occupied territories.
Mahmoud Abu Atta, the media coordinator at the al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage, told Arabic-language Safa news agency that 96 illegal settlers, escorted by several groups of Israeli troops and led by a number of guides and rabbis, entered the site through the Bab al-Maghariba on Sunday morning.
The settlers staged lengthy stopovers in various parts of the al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard during the incursion.
Abu Atta added that Israeli soldiers were heavily present at the entrance gates to the mosque; and thoroughly checked the identity cards of arriving worshipers.
The settlers finally left the al-Aqsa Mosque compound through Bab al-Selseleh.
The al-Aqsa Mosque compound is a flashpoint Islamic site, which is holy to Jews and Christians as well. The mosque is Islam’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
The occupied Palestinian territories have witnessed tensions ever since Israeli forces imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds in August 2015.
More than 260 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces in the tensions since the beginning of last October. The violence has also killed at least 32 Israelis, two Americans, an Eritrean and a Sudanese.