Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel along with scores of Jewish settlers forced their way on Monday into East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover, according to a Palestinian official, Anadolu reports.
“Ariel along with 170 settlers stormed the compound and performed Talmudic rituals near the Dome of the Rock Mosque,” Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for Jerusalem’s Jordan-run Religious Endowments Authority, told Anadolu Agency.
He said the settlers were backed by Israeli police.
According to al-Dibs, Jewish groups have called on followers to converge on the Al-Aqsa compound to mark the week-long Jewish holiday of Passover.
Passover, which commemorates the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt during the time of Prophet Moses, is considered one of the most important holidays on the Jewish religious calendar.
Last year, more than 1,500 settlers forced their way into the Al-Aqsa compound during Passover.
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.