Dozens of Israeli settlers forced their way into East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday, according to a Palestinian official.
“More than 150 Jewish settlers stormed the holy compound through the Al-Mugharbah gate,” Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a Jordan-run organization responsible for overseeing the city’s Islamic sites, said in a brief statement.
He said the settlers were joined by a number of Israeli policemen during the tour.
Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel was among those who toured the holy compound, according to al-Dibs.
Tension has mounted in the Palestinian territories — including occupied East Jerusalem, where the Al-Aqsa is located — since US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
For Muslims, the Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount”, claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the Jewish state in a move never recognized by the international community.
Last year, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on the US to withdraw its recognition of the flashpoint city as Israel’s capital.