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Israeli Knesset member storms Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem

March 31, 2022 at 2:09 pm

Israeli right-wing Knesset member Itamar Ben Gvir in Jerusalem, 14 February 2022 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Right-wing Israeli Knesset member, Itamar Ben-Gvir, forced his way on Thursday into the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem amid tight police protection, according to a Palestinian agency, and Anadolu News Agency reports.

Ben-Gvir stormed the site after Israeli police agreed, Wednesday evening, to allow him to tour the complex ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, due to start this week.

In a statement, the Islamic Endowments Department said Ben-Gvir stormed the site through the complex’s Mughrabi Gate under the protection of Israeli police.

A Palestinian woman was detained by Israeli forces in the Bab Al-Asbat (Lion’s Gate) area, to the north of the Mosque, the statement said.

In 2003, the Israeli government unilaterally allowed settlers to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, despite protests from the Islamic Endowments Department, which oversees holy sites in Jerusalem.

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Since then, Israeli police allow settlers, except for Fridays and Saturdays, to storm the site in two shifts in the morning and after the noon prayer.

Concerns are running high that settler tours of the compound during the Jewish Passover holiday, which coincides with the third week of Ramadan, may cause confrontations between the Palestinians and Israeli police.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the “Temple Mount”, claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

During the past months, Ben-Gvir had erected a tent for him in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, after which he made provocative visits to the Palestinians in the Bab Al-Amoud area in the city.