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Hundreds of Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa on 4th day of Passover

April 24, 2019 3:48 P.M. (Updated: April 30, 2019 12:51 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Hundreds of Israeli settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, on Wednesday, under the protection of heavily armed Israeli forces and police, on the fourth day of the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Head of the public relations office at the Islamic Endowment Department, Firas al-Dibs, confirmed that about 515 Israeli settlers stormed the compound through the Moroccan Gate.

Heavily armed Israeli forces and police provided protection to Israeli settlers as they provocatively toured the Al-Aqsa compound.

Al-Dibs pointed out that a large group of Israeli settlers performed Jewish religious rituals while in the compound.

Such visits spark frustration among Palestinians who see the incursions as a direct threat to Palestinian sovereignty and any potential for a future independent Palestinian state, which has been effectively marred by increasing settler presence across Palestinian land.

Meanwhile, Israeli authorities banned two Palestinians from entry to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Local sources identified the two Palestinians as Thaer Abu Sbeih, who was banned for six months, and Rohi Kalghasi, who was banned for four months.

The reason for the ban remained unknown.

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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