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Israeli rightists tour Aqsa compound, witnesses say

Oct. 29, 2013 2:15 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 30, 2013 11:03 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli rightists entered the Al-Aqsa compound on Tuesday under armed guard, witnesses told Ma'an.

Around 63 Jewish Israelis toured the compound in three groups, mainly consisting of religious students and teachers, locals said.

They entered the area via the Moroccan Gate and left via the Chain Gate.

Dozens of Palestinian students shouted slogans condemning the visit.

Because of the sensitive nature of the Al-Aqsa compound, Israel maintains a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls it to not allow non-Muslim prayers in the area. Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, leading to tension with Palestinian worshipers.

The compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque and is 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. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

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

Al-Aqsa is located in East Jerusalem, a part of the internationally recognized Palestinian territories that have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
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