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Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa compound for Sukkot

Sept. 24, 2018 2:48 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 24, 2018 5:08 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Large groups of Israeli settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, on Monday noon, while many performed religious Talmudic rituals outside the mosque's gates in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem.

The Islamic Endowment Department (Waqf) confirmed that hundreds of Israeli settlers started storming the compound since early morning hours, under armed protection by Israeli forces, through the Moroccans Gate.

Many Israeli settlers held palm branches while performing Talmudic rituals outside the Cotton Merchants Gate, one of the entrances to the compound, on the occasion of the Sukkot Jewish holiday.

Meanwhile, heavily armed Israeli forces were deployed across the compound as Israeli settlers toured the area; soldiers set up iron barriers.

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 this agreement, the Israeli authorities regularly allow Jewish visitors to enter the site -- often under the protection of armed guards. 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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