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Over 200 Israelis tour Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for Hanukkah

Dec. 14, 2017 3:47 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 15, 2017 7:17 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Dozens of Israelis entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, amid tensions surrounding the city following US President Donald Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last week.

Head of the media department at the Islamic Endowment, or Waqf -- in charge of running Al-Aqsa Mosque compound -- Firas al-Dibs, told Ma’an that 233 Israeli settlers “raided” the compound through the Moroccan and Chain Gates.

According to al-Dibs, added that big groups of Israeli settlers raid and tour al-Aqsa compound and leave through the Chain Gate under heavy police protection.

He said that Israeli police forces were deployed at the gates of the holy site since early Thursday morning , searching and holding ID cards of Palestinian worshipers before allowing them to enter the mosque.

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.

During Jewish holidays, ultra-religious Israelis typically visit the holy site under heavy security, causing tensions to rise between Israeli forces and local Palestinians, who are subjected to unwarranted searches and are arbitrarily prevented from entering the compound.

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