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In video - Israeli MK, dozens of settlers take to Al-Aqsa

Dec. 9, 2018 10:42 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 10, 2018 3:33 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Uri Ariel, stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, on Sunday.

Firas al-Dibs, head of the Public Relations and Media Department at the Islamic Endowment (Waqf), said that Ariel along with dozens of Israeli settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound under the heavy protection of Israeli police forces.

Israeli visits to the compound have increased over the past week in time for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

Al-Dibs also mentioned that Ariel along with the Israeli settlers entered through the Moroccans Gate in large consecutive groups and toured the compound “provocatively.”

Al-Dibs added that a large number of Israeli forces were deployed across the compound, as settlers performed Jewish religious prayers.

Ariel had previously stormed the compound in mid-November.

The number of Israeli MK’s, who storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, has increased the past few months after Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, decided to lift a ban that would previously not allow Israeli Knesset members to visit the compound every three months, after incursions were banned since October 2015.

Netanyahu allowed members of the Knesset, mostly right-wing extremists, who support the demolition of the Islamic site in order to build a Jewish temple instead, to visit the Al-Aqsa compound once every three months.

After Netanyahu lifted the ban, Palestinian Authority (PA) spokesman, Youssef al-Mahmoud, spoke out about the decision to lift the ban calling it a "serious provocation" and "encouraging harm to one of Islam’s holiest sites."

However, in the past two months, MKs such as Shuli Mualem, Yehuda Glick, and Uri Ariel have repeatedly entered the compound, violating the “every three months entry.”

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque. The third holiest site in Islam, it is also venerated as Judaism's most holy place, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.

While Jewish visitation is permitted to the compound, non-Muslim worship at Al-Aqsa is prohibited according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.

The video below shows Ariel joining Israeli settlers during prayers at Al-Aqsa:
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