Groups of Israeli navy soldiers and Jewish settlers on Tuesday stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, a Palestinian foundation said.
The Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage said that a group of some 45 male and female Navy soldiers in their uniforms stormed the Muslim’s third holiest shrine through the Al-Magharebah gate that connects the mosque with the Al-Buraq Plaza (the Western Wall Plaza).
The foundation said that a large Israeli police force guarded the soldiers for fear of clashes between them and Palestinian worshipers at the site.
It added that several small groups of Jewish settlers also stormed the complex and performed Talmudic prayers under the guard of Israeli police.
The foundation said that the settlers toured the Al-Aqsa Mosque plaza under the heavy guard of Israeli police and Border Guard officers. It added that the group started provoking the Palestinian worshipers who shouted “Allahu Akbar” in response. The foundation said that the Israeli security forces surrounded the groups to prevent hundreds of Palestinians from attacking it.
The foundation said that Israel has longstanding plans to take control of the Al-Aqsa compound. It underlined the fact that the second Intifada, also called the Al-Aqsa uprising was sparked on 28 September, 2000, by a controversial visit by former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
The Jewish Rabbi Yaakov Medan of Har (Mount) Etzion seminary said last July that the Israeli internal intelligence service Shin Bet supports the visits to the Muslim’s third holiest shrine. “The Shin Bet Jewish Division Director told me Jewish presence on the Temple Mount (Al-Aqsa Mosque complex) is essential for maintaining our sovereignty. “He told me that in order to accommodate this trend he would increase the number of agents and security personnel on the Temple Mount.” Medan told participants in the Begin Center Conference on the complex early last week.
Israel captured East Jerusalem in the June 1967 War, annexed it in 1980, and has since built settlements there that are home to some 300,000 Jewish settlers.
Control over the city has been seen as the most sensitive and thorniest issue of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinians hope to make East Jerusalem the capital of their future state but the Israel says the city is its eternal capital.