Reports in the Palestinian media have said that dozens of Israeli soldiers have entered the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa and flown the Israeli flag there for the first time since the occupation started in June 1967. According to Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, director of Islamic Religious Endowments in Jerusalem, around 160 border guards and Special Forces were allowed to enter Al-Aqsa by the Israeli police force.
"During the period that these forces were roaming about the sanctuary," said Sheikh Al-Khatib, "they brought out a large Israeli flag and started waving it around."
The Sheikh described this as "a serious provocative action that cannot be accepted." He said that he complained in writing to the Israeli police commander and condemned the incident, demanding that the police should bring those responsible to account and make sure it doesn't happen again.
The head of the Supreme Islamic Organisation and preacher of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Dr. Sheikh Akrama Sabri, denounced what took place, noting that it was but one of many daily violations of the sanctity of the mosque by Israel.
Al-Aqsa Foundation said that the group which raised the Israeli flag was part of around 1,300 tourists, 91 settlers and 185 soldiers, in uniform, who entered the mosque in three batches. The settlers practiced Judaic rituals near Al-Aqsa Mosque at a point called Sabeel Qaytbay until they were removed by mosque guards.
The statement from the Foundation added that the soldiers who raised the flag assaulted a Palestinian guard who told them that what they were doing is forbidden. They were eventually removed by a larger group of guards in the presence of Sheikh Al-Khatib.