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Israeli restrictions on Al-Aqsa entry continue for 3rd week

Sept. 6, 2015 2:30 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 6, 2015 10:20 P.M.)
(MaanImages, File)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces continued to impose restrictions on Palestinians attempting to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday for the third consecutive week, a Palestinian Authority official told Ma'an.

Israeli forces early Sunday reportedly guarded the entrances to the mosque compound and prevented dozens of women from entering, in addition to restricting some men and youths.

Israeli authorities have prevented women from entering the mosque between 7 and 11 a.m. for nearly three weeks, locals said.

Israeli Jerusalem police commander Avi Bitton told Ma'an previously that the extra restrictions on women were imposed “to prevent any tensions in the area, as they violate order, and present a threat to visitors.”

However, locals have alleged that Israeli forces are setting aside hours in the morning to allow Jewish worshipers access to the mosque compound, flouting an Israeli agreement with the Islamic Endowment responsible for the compound that forbids non-Muslim worship at the holy site.

Some 42 right-wing Israelis reportedly entered the mosque compound on Sunday.

Locals told Ma'an they believed the Israelis entered the compound to commemorate five years since the death of four extremist settlers who were killed in a 2010 West Bank shooting that members of Hamas claimed responsibility for. One of the victims in the shooting was a pregnant woman.

Witnesses said that one of the right-wing Israelis attempted to perform Jewish rituals when he reached the "al-Harsh" area of the compound, but was stopped by Al-Aqsa Mosque security guards.

An Israeli police spokesperson did not comment on the event.

Ongoing restrictions

Earlier this week Israeli authorities reportedly distributed a blacklist banning 40 Palestinian women from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Hanadi al-Halawani, a local woman and teacher currently on the blacklist, said the list contained 42 names on Sunday, with women and girls between the ages of 15 to 60.

"Israeli forces are trying the best they can to keep us away from Al-Aqsa mosque and assault us … but this will not stop us from standing and defending the Al-Aqsa Mosque, despite the restrictions," al-Halawani told Ma'an.

Locals have also reported that school students have experienced restrictions while on their way to and from schools located in the compound.

Male students of religious schools have only been allowed entrance to the mosque compound through the Hatta Gate with a teacher as an escort, while female students also need an escort and have been only allowed entry through the Chain Gate.

The mosque compound is the third holiest site in Islam, and is also venerated as Judaism's most holy place, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.
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