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Right-wing Israelis tour Aqsa as Israel bans Fatah official from the compound

June 20, 2016 4:17 P.M. (Updated: June 23, 2016 4:12 P.M.)
Thousands attend prayers on the second Friday of Ramadan. June 17, 2016 (MaanImages)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- A group of right-wing Israelis toured the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday morning, following an Israeli court decision to ban a Palestinian government official from the site for two months, amid an increase in Israeli "provocations" on the compound during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Witnesses and officials from the Islamic Endowment (Waqf), which is in charge of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, told Ma’an that more than 60 Israelis toured the compound escorted by six Israeli intelligence officers after entering the compound through the Moroccan Gate.

Meanwhile, Israeli police officers stationed outside of the compound prevented sahour meals -- meals taken at dawn by those observing Ramadan who fast during the day -- from reaching Muslim worshipers who spend the night inside the compound.

Witnesses reported that a “heated argument” broke out between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli police officers.

It was also revealed on Monday that Israeli authorities banned a senior leader of Fatah in occupied East Jerusalem from the Al-Aqsa Mosque for two months.

Spokesperson for the Fatah movement in Jerusalem Raafat Elayyan said in a statement that the Israeli court decision on Sunday to ban Awad al-Salayma from the mosque "reaffirms that Netanyahu’s terrorist government is [politically] bankrupt.”

The spokesperson added that al-Salayma was detained for several hours before the decision to ban him was made.

Separately, Israeli forces also stormed Shufat refugee camp near the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem before dawn Monday, at sahour time.

Spokesperson for the Fatah movement in the camp Thaer al-Fasfous told Ma’an that more than 300 Israeli soldiers deployed in the streets and alleys of Shufat and ransacked several homes.

He added that Israeli soldiers assaulted locals, and that a young Palestinian man sustained bruises after he was attacked inside his home.

The Waqf condemned Israeli authorities last week for the latest “provocations and harassment” taking place in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound amid the holy month of Ramadan.

The Waqf slammed Israel for their policy that “seeks to deprive the Waqf of their natural and historic right to run Al-Aqsa Mosque, and deprive Muslim worshipers their opportunity to pray in it.”

The statement criticized the fact that Palestinians are being banned from the holy site during Ramadan, “at a time when Muslims look forward to dedicating their time to fasting, worshiping, and other spiritual activities in Al-Aqsa Mosque -- one of the most sacred sites in Islam.”
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