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Palestinians perform prayers at Al-Aqsa after reopening of gates

March 13, 2019 11:57 A.M. (Updated: March 14, 2019 1:00 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- A large number of Palestinian worshipers performed predawn prayers, on Wednesday, after Israeli forces reopened Al-Aqsa Mosque gates.

Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Islamic Endowment Department and Al-Aqsa Affairs, said that the gates of Al-Aqsa were reopened since predawn prayers and that a number of Waqf employees, as well as worshipers managed to enter into the compound to perform prayers.

On Tuesday afternoon, Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque, including the Dome of the Rock, and physically assaulted Muslim worshipers, both women and men, before forcing them to leave the compound and sealed off all its gates.

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 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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