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Clashes at Al-Aqsa mosque compound

May 15, 2013 10:42 A.M. (Updated: May 17, 2013 8:49 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Clashes broke out on Wednesday around the Al-Aqsa mosque compound as Israeli rightists tried to enter the holy site.

Dozens of Israeli right-wingers raided the compound through the Moroccan gate, and clashes broke out at the Bab al-Hutta gate as Israeli forces escorted rightists into the mosque area.

Witnesses told Ma'an that 17 Israelis tried to enter the compound area via Chain Gate, before local Palestinians obstructed them. A group of Israeli rightists and Palestinians began pushing each other, before Israeli forces intervened to protect the Israelis, witnesses said.

An Israeli organization called Temple Mount Organizations published invitations on their Facebook page encouraging Israelis to enter the Al-Aqsa compound for the religious holiday of Shavuot.

The group said that Likud right-winger Moshe Feiglin will attend Shavout celebrations due to be held on the Mount of Olives. Feiglin has in the past proposed that Israel pay Palestinian families to leave the West Bank, and says there is no such thing as the Palestinian people.

Although Israeli law technically does not bar Jews from praying inside the compound, the matter is at the discretion of the police who, for reasons of public order, have never allowed Jewish prayer to take place there since 1967.

According to mainstream religious leaders, Jews are forbidden from entering for fear they would profane the "Holy of Holies" the inner sanctum of the Second Temple.

Last week, Israel's minister of religion said he would seek to amend the law in order to allow Jews to pray at the flashpoint al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City.
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