Jewish settlers storm Al-Aqsa Mosque compound

AL-QUDS – A group of extremist Jewish settlers under Israeli police protection stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem) on Tuesday, a Palestinian mosque guard has said.

"At least 30 [Jewish] settlers stormed the site and conducted provocative tours in the compound's courtyards," Naser Qous told Anadolu Agency.

"Settlers entered [the compound] through the Al-Magharbeh Gate, passed by the Al-Marwani Mosque, and then left through the Al- Silsileh‎ Gate," he said.

"Meanwhile, Israeli police restricted access to the Al-Aqsa compound, preventing young men and women from entering it," he added.

In a statement, the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage denounced what it called an "organized campaign of incitement" by certain members of the Knesset (Israel's parliament) against the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestinian worshippers.

The foundation, a Palestinian NGO devoted to defending Al-Aqsa against Israeli violations, hailed the continued Palestinian presence inside the Al-Aqsa compound, which, it asserted, had helped protect the holy site from violations by Jewish settlers.

Recent days have seen recurrent clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian worshippers at Al-Aqsa, the latter of whom flocked to the site following calls by extremist Jewish groups to force their way into the compound during the weeklong Jewish Passover holiday (April 14 to 22).

In recent months, groups of extremist Jewish settlers, often accompanied by Israeli security forces, have repeatedly forced their way into the Al-Aqsa complex. The frequent violations anger Palestinian Muslims and occasionally lead to violent confrontations.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied Al-Quds during the 1967 Middle East War. It unilaterally annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state, in a move that has never been recognized by the international community.

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