Groups of Israeli settlers guarded by Israeli police broke into the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied Jerusalem this morning, according to witnesses.
Scores of Israeli settlers entered the compound through the Moroccan Gate in groups and performed rituals there under the protection of Israeli police officers, local sources said.
During the presence of the Israeli settlers inside the holy site, Israeli police imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian Muslims into the holy site, including bodily searching some of them and retaining their identity cards.
Since 2003, the Israeli occupation authorities have been allowing settlers into the compound almost on a daily basis, with the exclusion of Friday, the Muslim day of rest and worship.
The Islamic Awqaf, the Jordan-run authority in charge of the holy site, has repeatedly described the settlers’ presence in Al-Aqsa Mosque as provocative, saying that Palestinian worshippers and guards at Al-Aqsa feel uncomfortable with the presence of Israeli police and settlers touring the Islamic holy site.
Israel captured East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa Mosque is located, during the Six-Day War in 1967 in a move never recognized by the international community.