A group of settlers accompanied by Israeli forces entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Wednesday for the second consecutive day, with Muslim worshipers prevented from praying at the holy site, locals said.
Israeli police officers erected several checkpoints at entrances to the Al-Aqsa compound and prevented all Palestinian women, and men under 50, from entering, witnesses said.
Elderly men were only allowed in after they had given their identity cards to Israeli officers.
Israeli forces evacuated all young worshipers who managed to enter the mosque for dawn prayers, allowing only employees of the endowment ministry, who work at the mosque, to remain.
Over 100 settlers then entered the Al-Aqsa compound at 7 a.m., entering through the Moroccan gate accompanied by Israeli forces.
A day earlier, a group of around 40 settlers toured the compound escorted by police officers to commemorate the eve of Jerusalem Day, a controversial national holiday in Israel celebrating the "unification" of the city, or occupation of East Jerusalem.
Israeli politicians, such as Likud's Moshe Feiglin, have in the past called for Jewish prayers at the compound, and control and access to the holy site is a particularly sensitive religious and political issue.
Earlier this year, PLO official Saeb Erekat slammed an attempt by Feiglin to enter the compound, calling it a "violation of the sanctity of the place as well as a direct provocation against Palestine, the Arab- and Muslim world."
The Al-Aqsa compound, containing the mosque and the Dome of the Rock, is the third holiest site in Islam and abuts the site where Jews believe the ancient Second Temple stood.
Source: Ma'an News