More than 200 extremist Jewish settlers forced their way into the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem on September 29, Sunday, on the first day of the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah). Media sources reported that the settlers were protected by a large Israeli police contingent. Israeli agriculture minister Uri Ariel and extremist Rabbi Yehuda Glick were also present and made inflammatory speeches.
The Jordan-run Religious Endowments Authority, which is responsible for the upkeep of Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites, said in a statement that “around 235 Jewish settlers have entered the compound,” through the Al-Mugharbah Gate.
The Al-Aqsa mosque is the third holiest site in Islam. The holiest site in the Jewish religion – the Western Wall – is located nearby and certain sections of the community believe the mosque premises is the site of the Temple Mount. Palestinian sources reported that speeches by extremist Jewish leaders included calls to rebuild the temple mount at the site by destroying the mosque.
At the same time, the Israeli police imposed strict security measures on the mosque compound, preventing Palestinians from accessing many areas. Barriers were also put up to block the entry of Muslim worshipers after the dawn prayers. As per Israeli law, Jews are only allowed to visit the mosque premises at designated visiting hours and are not allowed to pray.
The attack on Sunday is the latest in a series of incidents where Zionist extremists have targeted the Al-Aqsa mosque. In August, more than 1,700 settlers stormed the compound, while thousands of Palestinian worshipers were in the midst of prayers on Eid al-Adha.
Subsequently, Israeli police entered the compound and fired tear gas, sound grenades, and rubber coated steel bullets on the Palestinian worshippers. As many as 61 Palestinians were injured in the assault, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.
Similarly, in June, hundreds of extremist Jews, again under the protection of the Israeli police, broke into the mosque compound. Most of them belonged to the ‘third temple movement’ which calls for the demolition of the mosque to build a Jewish temple in its place.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where the Al-Aqsa mosque is situated, after it won the 1967 six-day Arab-Israeli war. In 1980, Israel annexed the entire city of Jerusalem. However, this action was never recognized by the international community.