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Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa compound ahead of Jewish holiday of Tisha B'Av

Aug. 11, 2016 4:33 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 11, 2016 8:19 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Scores of Israeli settlers escorted by Israeli police entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Thursday ahead of the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av.

Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for the Islamic Endowment (Waqf) said that 129 right-wing settlers entered through the Moroccan Gate and toured the compound, with three of them performing prayers, in contravention of international agreements regulating Al-Aqsa.

The compound tour came two days ahead of the holiday of Tisha B’Av, which notably commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temple.

Extremist settlers are expected to carry out massive tours in the Al-Aqsa compound on reinforced tours at Al-Aqsa Mosque on Sunday, the day of Tisha B’Av.

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

While Jewish visitation is permitted to the compound, non-Muslim worship is prohibited according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.

Despite this agreement, Israeli authorities regularly allow Jewish visitors to enter the site -- often under armed guard. Such visits are typically made by right-wingers attempting to unsettle the status quo at the site, and coincide with restrictions on Palestinian access, including bans on entrance and detentions.

In past weeks, Israeli authorities have repeatedly cracked down on Waqf employees, detaining, summoning and banning 21 Palestinian employees in the space of 10 days earlier this month.
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