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Israeli army recruits, rightists tour Aqsa compound

March 19, 2014 1:00 P.M. (Updated: March 20, 2014 5:24 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Dozens of Israeli soldiers and settlers toured the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Wednesday, the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Endowment said.

Over 90 Israeli army recruits entered the compound via the Moroccan Gate and were escorted by Israeli police officers.

The visit was part of an Israeli army orientation tour, the PA ministry said.

Over 20 extremists also entered the mosque compound, it added.

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.

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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