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Jewish settlers storm Al-Aqsa Mosque to celebrate 'independence'

Dozens of Jewish Israeli settlers stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque on Tuesday and Wednesday to celebrate Israel's independence. They called for the mosque to be destroyed and a temple to be built in its place.

Deputy Minister of Transport Tzipi Hotovely, of the Likud Party, said provocatively that she wishes to "celebrate Israel's independence and to raise the Israeli flag over Al-Aqsa Mosque because it is the only place that gives spiritual importance and political value to the State of Israel."

Her remarks followed a photo session holding the Israeli flag in front of the Dome of the Rock as part of an activity organised for members of the Knesset to express their support for the destruction of the mosque. Hotovely, who is known for her extremist views, called for the imposition of full Israeli sovereignty over the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa. She was extremely critical of those who sought to deny her the "right" as a member of the Knesset to raise the Israeli flag inside the mosque compound.

Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage issued a statement on Wednesday which revealed that the Likud Party's Central Committee is scheduled to meet on Thursday to formulate a draft resolution to be discussed during its General Conference. This will provide for full Israeli sovereignty over Al-Aqsa and allowing Jews to enter the mosque to perform Talmudic rituals.

Meanwhile, nearly 100 members of the Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement organised a march from Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem's occupied Old City, passing through Hurva Synagogue and the Mughrabi Gate. At the Alqtanin Gate they were confronted by Palestinian Jerusalemites who prevented them from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Another confrontation between Muslim worshippers and extremist Jews occurred when more than a hundred settlers, including seven female soldiers in military uniform, stormed the mosque.

The Israeli army prevented Muslims over the age of 50 from entering Al-Aqsa on Tuesday. Soldiers later revealed images showing settlers performing Talmudic rituals in front of the mosque.

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