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Occupation closes Al-Aqsa gates during Passover

Israeli forces arrested two young men and closed the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque yesterday morning amid high tension.

According to the Palestinian news agency‎ WAFA, occupation forces arrested Musbah Abu Sebih during a sit-in held by Palestinian citizens of Israel around the Al-Asbat and Hutta gates in the Old City of Jerusalem in protest for preventing them from entering Al-Aqsa courtyards.

WAFA pointed out that the occupation authorities closed the gates of Al-Aqsa and prevented men and women under the age of 50 as well as the Waqf employees from entering the mosque from dawn.

The director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Omar Kisswani told the news agency that the Israeli police closed the Maghrabi Gate through which settlers stormed the courtyards of the Temple Mount, to coincide with the calls of extremist organisations to launch collective incursions into Al-Aqsa on the first day of Passover.

Sources added that there is a lot of tension in the Old City of Jerusalem because of the closure of Al-Aqsa's gates, keeping only three gates open: Hutta, Al-Silsila and Al-Majlis, where women under the age of 50 were allowed to enter only after 8am.

Later, Israeli forces arrested Nidal Khalaf after beating him when protesters were being dispersed from around the gates of Al-Asbat and Hutta.

The occupation forces forced dozens of young protesters to end their sit-in and forced them up to Al-Asbat gate where they were singing and cheering amid a heavy military presence.

On his part, the Director General of the Islamic Waqf in Jerusalem, Azzam Al-Khatib Al-Tamimi denounced the closing of Al-Aqsa Mosque gates to worshippers, demanding the gates be opened and worshippers be allowed to enter.

In a press statement, Al-Tamimi said that since Sunday intensive contact has been made with the Israeli police through which he called for preventing extremist Jew from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to preserve the sanctity of the place. These contacts led to the cancellation of the so-called "tourism programme".

A large number of Jewish Israelis are putting pressure on the occupation forces to open the gates.

The Aqsa Foundation for Endowments and Heritage reported earlier that crowds of Palestinians from Jerusalem and Israel had been present since the early hours of Monday inside Al-Aqsa Mosque and at its gates to defend it and protect it amid calls made by organisations to collectively break into Al-Aqsa and present the offerings of Passover inside it.

The Foundation added that hundreds of people continued for the second day their stay in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and they were joined by hundreds more yesterday.

However, hundreds of people prayed the dawn prayer at the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque, especially at the gate of Hutta after the occupation forces prevented them from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque.

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