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Hundreds of right-wing Israelis continue visits to Al-Aqsa Mosque for Jewish holiday

Oct. 9, 2017 6:49 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 10, 2017 3:49 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Hundreds of right-wing Israelis and settlers took to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Monday under the protection of Israeli forces for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

The Islamic Endowment, or Waqf -- in charge of running Al-Aqsa Mosque compound -- told Ma’an that 462 Israeli settlers “raided” the compound, in addition to 150 Jewish religious students through the Moroccan Gate entrance.

Meanwhile, the Endowment and other local Muslim committees warned of the increasing visits by Israeli settlers to the compound, highlighting that several Israelis performed prayers and religious inside the compound, in violation of a long-standing agreement between Israel and the Endowment preventing non-Muslim prayer in Al-Aqsa.

This story continues below.

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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