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Israeli forces briefly detain, interrogate Al-Aqsa Mosque guard

June 21, 2017 2:34 P.M. (Updated: June 21, 2017 3:44 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli intelligence forces temporarily detained a Palestinian guard employed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem's Old City on Tuesday evening and also summoned three other guards to appear for interrogation.

Firas al-Dibs, spokesperson for the Islamic Endowment (Waqf) that manages the holy site, said that Tariq Abu Sbeih was detained at the Herod’s Gate entrance to the compound, as Maher Abu Sneineh, Fadi Elayyan, and Salim Badr were summoned for questioning.

Abu Sbeih was released after four hours of interrogation.

An Israeli police spokesperson could not be reached for comment on the interrogations.

The incident came days after Israeli forces raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and assaulted Muslim worshipers, as extremist Jewish Israelis were allowed to tour the holy site.

At least three Palestinians were injured from the Israeli police beating, several others suffered from pepper spray and tear gas inhalation, and two Palestinians were also detained from the compound.

The incident also came as Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem were being subjected to “collective punishment” measures following a deadly attack in front of the Old City last week, in which three Palestinians were shot dead after conducting an attack that left on Israeli policewoman killed.

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, the 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.

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