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Israeli settlers take to Al-Aqsa Mosque under heavy police protection

Nov. 5, 2017 5:18 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 8, 2017 11:58 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli settlers on Sunday toured the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem under the protection of Israeli armed forces, according to official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency.

Wafa reported that groups of ultra right-wing settlers entered the holy site and toured the vicinity, performing Talmudic rituals as Israeli police forces escorted them.

An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Following Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, and subsequent annexation, Israel has maintained a compromise with the Islamic trust not to not allow non-Muslim prayers in the area. However, non-Muslims are permitted to enter and visit the holy compound during designated hours.

Israeli forces nonetheless regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, who often times carry out prayers in an attempt to challenge the status quo at Al-Aqsa, leading to tensions with Palestinian worshipers.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and 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.

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