Hundreds of Israeli settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the occupied East Jerusalem today amid protests by Jerusalem-based Muslim bodies, Palestinian officials said.
“Three hundred and eighty-five settlers stormed the mosque while being heavily guarded by Israeli police,” Firas Al-Debs, a media official in Jerusalem’s Islamic Endowments Department, told the Anadolu Agency.
A total of 252 settlers stormed the mosque in the morning while another 132 stormed it again in the afternoon, he added.
The settlers tried to perform Talmudic rituals and attempted to attack the mosque guards, while two youths were arrested in the mosque’s courtyard for half an hour before they were asked to leave, he added.
Al-Debs also said the Israeli police imposed restrictions on the entry of a number of young men into the mosque.
Settlers have intensified their attempts to breach the mosque since Monday’s Jewish Passover holiday.
Jerusalem-based Muslim bodies condemned the incursions, saying they aim to change Al-Aqsa’s historical character.
“We cannot accept such arbitrary, barbaric … measures under the pretext of Jewish holidays,” Jerusalem’s Department of Islamic Waqf and Islamic Higher Council, as well as Dar Al-Ifta and the Supreme Islamic Council, said in a joint statement.
“The Israeli police are sweeping the Al-Aqsa Mosque and allowing extremists to break into it and are overlooking their performance of Talmudic prayers and their obvious provocations by imposing a policy of fait accompli by the force of occupation and the power of arms.”