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Israeli police prevent Jerusalemites from entering Al-Aqsa

Nov. 27, 2013 10:55 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 28, 2013 7:33 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli police officers early Wednesday detained a Palestinian near King Faysal Gate of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, witnesses said.

Eyewitnesses told Ma'an that Shamiyya al-Muhtasib was on her way to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, where she studies Shariah law.

Separately, Israeli police notified two women and a young man that they couldn't enter the Al-Aqsa compound until Dec. 12, saying they had "breached order and endangered the public," witnesses said.

Omar Fakhouri and Dalal Hashlamoun were reportedly stopped on their way to the compound and told not to return until after Dec. 12.

Israeli authorities summoned Ibtisam Mustafa, a teacher at al-Umariyya school in the old city of Jerusalem, for interrogation at an Israeli police station near Jaffa gate, locals told Ma'an.

During the interrogation session, Mustafa was reportedly banned from returning to the mosque until Dec. 12 because she had earlier escorted a group of students through the compound who were shouting "Allahu akbar," or "God is the greatest" in Arabic.

Additionally, early Wednesday, a group of more than 20 Jewish extremists escorted by Israeli security toured the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Because of the sensitive nature of the Al-Aqsa mosque, Israel maintains a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls the compound to restrict the area for Muslim prayers. Israeli forces, however, 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 the 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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