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Israeli officers enter Aqsa compound, raid mosque

Feb. 4, 2014 12:41 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 5, 2014 8:55 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli intelligence officers entered the al-Aqsa mosque compound on Tuesday and raided the Dome of the Rock, witnesses and the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Endowment said.

Around 30 intelligence officers entered the compound through the Moroccan Gate and toured different areas of the plateau before storming the Dome of the Rock and climbing to the roof, endowment ministry officials told Ma'an.

Female worshipers shouted "Allah Akbar" at the Israeli officers, who then tried to take pictures of the women, which led to a heated argument.

Israeli police officers who escorted the intelligence officers collected the identity cards of several women in the area and told them to go to a police station by Jaffa Gate to retrieve the cards.

Meanwhile, a group of 17 Israelis entered the mosque compound under armed guard.

On Monday, an extremist Israeli organization urged Jews to organize a demonstration waving Israeli flags inside the al-Aqsa compound on Thursday, the ministry of endowment said.

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.

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