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Israel's Likud party youth members tour Al-Aqsa Mosque

Sept. 17, 2015 4:17 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 19, 2015 2:25 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Dozens of right-wing Israelis, a majority of whom are youths affiliated to Israel's ruling right-wing party Likud, toured the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Thursday, while Israeli police officers denied dozens of Palestinian worshipers entry, witnesses told Ma'an.

Witnesses at the compound said that more than 60 right-wing Israelis toured the compound under the protection of Israeli forces and police officers.

Palestinianworshipers rallied outside thecompoundgates andshouted "God is Great" in Arabic, as Israelis entered the compound.

The visit came briefly after Likud activists called on young supporters of the party to go to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Meanwhile, Palestinian men and women were denied entry to the mosque under the pretext that they would “ignite trouble.”

Israeli officers briefly detained three young men outside the Chain gate of the compound after they reportedly "harassed" right-wing Israelis.

During the confrontations, Israeli police allegedly issued an order for a 45-year-old Palestinian woman, Madlin Issa, to stay away from Al-Aqsa Mosque for 45 days.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon announced last week he had outlawed two Palestinian Muslim groups active at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.

Last Friday, clashes erupted at the compound on the morning of the Jewish new year, when Israeli forces raided the compound in the early hours, firing stun grenades and rubber coated steel bullets at Palestinians, who responded with rock throwing.

An Israeli police spokesperson told Ma'an that Israeli forces reportedly confiscated a pipe-bomb from the compound during the raid, which the spokesperson said would have been used when Israelis were allowed entry to the compound for new year celebrations later that morning.

The clashes resulted in condemnations from international bodies and Arab leaders.

Following Friday's clashes, the PLO accused Israel of provoking the entire Muslim world in its actions at the mosque compound.

"Israel is playing with fire," senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said Monday, warning that Israeli authorities were forcibly securing control over the site "in preparation for the total annexation and transformation of Al-Haram Al-Sharif."

She said: "Israel is not only provoking the Palestinians, but the entire Muslim world."

Palestinians have expressed fears that Israel is seeking to change rules governing the site, with far-right Jewish groups pushing for more access to the compound and even efforts by fringe organisations to erect a new temple.

Non-Muslims are allowed to visit the compound, but Jews are not allowed to pray or display national symbols, under an agreement between Israel and the Islamic Endowment that controls the site.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, also known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), is a 144,000-square-meter compound in the Old City of Jerusalem.

It includes two major mosques, the iconic Dome of the Rock and a silver-domed mosque known as the southern mosque.

Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad traveled from the sacred mosque in Mecca to Al-Aqsa during the night journey known as Isra and Miraj.

Israel seized East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, in the Six Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.

AFP contributed to this report.
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