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Israeli man attempts to enter mosque in Al-Aqsa compound

May 29, 2017 11:26 P.M. (Updated: May 30, 2017 11:03 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- An Israeli man attempted to enter the al-Qibli mosque -- the main mosque where Muslim worshipers perform prayers -- located inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Monday, but was prevented by a group of worshipers. 

Palestinian Prisoner's Society (PPS) Jerusalem chapter director Nasser Qaws told Ma’an that a group of Al-Aqsa security guards and Muslim worshipers at the gate of al-Qibli mosque noticed a person “who aroused their suspicions” while attempting to enter the mosque. 

One of the security guards headed towards the man and attempted to start a conversation, at which point the guard realized that the man was an “Israeli settler dressed as a civilian” and was attempting to enter the mosque for unknown reasons, Qaws said. 

The guard, along with a group of worshipers, prevented the man from entering the mosque and alerted Israeli police, who arrived at the scene and checked the identity card of the man and then escorted him out of the compound. 

According to Qaws, the Israeli man, whose identity remained unknown, was a retired colonel of the Israeli army.

An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. 
The Israeli man, center, who attempted to enter the mosque

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 to the compound is permitted and Israeli forces regularly escort groups of Israeli settlers onto the compound, non-Muslim worship is prohibited as part an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967. 

Despite the agreement, many Israelis attempt to pray at the site and are often escorted off the compound by Israeli authorities, while Palestinian worshipers face violence at the hands of Israeli forces and restrictions on access, including bans on entrance and detentions.

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