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Israeli settlers take to Al-Aqsa, damage Palestinian property along the way

Oct. 12, 2017 12:46 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 13, 2017 5:52 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) --Dozens of Israeli settlers attacked properties of Palestinians in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem on Thursday as they made their way to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound under the protection of Israeli forces.

Locals told Ma’an that around dawn, Israeli settler threw rocks and chairs at Palestinian shopfronts inside the Old City, and damaged Palestinian cars in the Aqabat al-Khaldiyeh and Council Gate areas outside the walls of the Old City.

Sources added that Palestinian youths “attempted to stop the settlers,” but they were unsuccessful, as Israeli forces maintained a heavy security presence around the settlers.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces closed main roads and streets in the Silwan neighborhood south of the Old City, in order to allow Israeli settlers living in the area to head to the Al-Aqsa Mosque Old for ongoing Jewish holidays.

An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The third holiest site in Islam, it is also venerated as Judaism's most holy place, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

Tensions around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound were a main contributor to the increasing unrest that erupted in October 2015, after right-wing Israelis made frequent visits to the site during a succession of Jewish holidays.

Meanwhile, ahead of the beginning of Sukkot, Israel announced an 11-day general closure for both the West Bank and Gaza -- during which only humanitarian, medical, and exceptional cases were to be allowed to exit or enter -- between Oct. 4 and Oct. 14.

Israel regularly imposes closures on the West Bank and Gaza for Jewish holidays, but week-long festivals like Sukkot usually only have closures imposed at the end of the holiday, lasting a few days.

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