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Jerusalem mayor enters Aqsa compound under armed guard

Oct. 28, 2014 12:13 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 29, 2014 7:05 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli police officers early Tuesday escorted the Jewish mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat to the the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, an official told Ma'an.

Sheikh Omar al-Kiwsani, the director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, told Ma'an Barkat entered the compound through the Moroccan Gate and toured the area.

Muslim worshipers shouted "Allahu Akbar," or "God is the Greatest" as Barkat and the police officers entered the compound.

"Barakat is the first mayor to storm Al-Aqsa, joining the extremist groups and extremist Knesset members who usually storm the place and urge others to do the same," al-Kiwasani said.

The compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

It is venerated as Judaism's most holy place as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.

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.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque is sensitive for Palestinians due to its status as the third holiest site in Islam and its location in the heart of the Old City of Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.

Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its "eternal, undivided capital," but the international community sees East Jerusalem as Palestinian territory and the capital of a future Palestinian state.
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