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Report: Wine bottle smashed at Al-Aqsa compound

June 8, 2011 1:57 P.M. (Updated: June 9, 2011 9:52 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- A bottle of red wine was broken in the grounds of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning, by "Jewish extremists" who had snuck into the compound, an eyewitness reported.

In Islam, alcohol is forbidden, and bringing it into a Muslim holy site is considered to be desecration.

The report of the incident was made public by the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Heritage and Islamic Endowments. Waqf officials told the official Palestinian Authority news agency WAFA, that the visiting Jewish group was "drinking wine and breaking the empty bottles on its ground to celebrate the Jewish Shavout holiday."

Foundation officials said the Jewish group entered the compound through its Magharbe Gate with Israeli police protection.

Israeli police did not intervene, the WAFA report stated, except to separate the Jewish group from a gathering of Muslim worshipers who were angered by the violation of religious law.

According to the statement of the foundation, mosque guards and Israeli forces were called to the area when the incident was observed.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam, Jews believe the western retaining wall of the compound was once the wall of the Second Temple. While neighborhoods that once stood next to the wall were demolished en masse in 1967 to make way for a large prayer area next to the wall, Jewish groups often request entrance into the Haram Ash-Sharif - the noble sanctuary - where the mosque is located, to worship at what is believed to be the Temple Mount.

On Tuesday, Israeli parliamentarian with the right-wing National Union party Michael Ben-Ari, had toured the mosque with a group of Israeli settlers.
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