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Israeli settlers enter Al-Aqsa for Purim holiday

March 4, 2015 2:58 P.M. (Updated: March 5, 2015 4:03 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli settlers entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound through the Moroccans Gate on Wednesday for the Purim Jewish Holiday.

Entering through the Moroccan gate, 56 Israeli settlers raided the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in groups protected by armed security, said a Ma'an reporter.

Witnesses said that a group of Israeli settlers attempted to perform religious rites near the Chain Gate before leaving the compound, but were prevented by guards of the Al-Aqsa.

The Israeli police detained a Palestinian worshiper at the compound who was taken to a police station near the Chain Gate for interrogation.

Palestinian women and youths were forced by the Israeli police to leave their ID cards on the gates of the mosque before entering.

Israeli police spokesman did not immediately respond to a call regarding the incident.

Four women were banned from entering the compound last week, for periods lasting from 10-60 days.

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

Following Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has maintained a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls the Al-Aqsa compound to not allow non-Muslim prayers in the area. Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, however, leading to tension with Palestinian worshipers.
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