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Israeli forces detain al-Aqsa guard while settlers raid compound

June 18, 2018 3:09 P.M. (Updated: June 19, 2018 4:04 P.M.)

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces detained head of the security department of the al-Aqsa Mosque and searched the Bab al-Rahma area east of the mosque on Monday morning.

Firas al-Dibs, head of the Public Relations and Media department at the Islamic Endowment identified the detainee as Abdullah Abu Taleb saying that he was immediately taken to the Chain Gate detention center.

Dibs added that groups of Israeli settlers raided and toured the compound while Israeli forces prevented Abu Taleb from following-up on the Israeli settlers' raids into the compound, and forced the guard to stand behind Israeli special forces.

Israeli police forces were deployed on top of the Mercy Gate, banned al-Aqsa guards from following-up on events and held them in one area.

On Sunday night, Israeli forces had vandalized the Bab al-Rahma area that was filled by hundreds of worshipers during the last days of Ramadan.

Hundreds of worshipers had launched a campaign during the last days of Ramadan to rebuild, improve and beautify the Bab al-Rahma area while calling out slogans that Bab al-Rahma is Palestinian.

Within a few days, the worshipers were able to arrange the area of Bab al-Rahma and lay down stone chains, stone tables and benches and plant olive tree saplings.

Ma’an News Agency also learned that Israeli forces uprooted those olive tree saplings and destroyed the stone seats and stairs in the area.

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.

While Jewish visitation is permitted to the compound, non-Muslim worship at Al-Aqsa is prohibited according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.

Despite the agreement with Jordan -- which is the custodian of Al-Aqsa -- Israeli authorities regularly allow Jewish visitors to enter the site, often under armed guard. Such visits are typically made by right-wingers attempting to unsettle the status quo at the site, and coincide with restrictions on Palestinian access, including bans on entrance and detentions.

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