JERUSALEM (AA) – Dozens of Jewish settlers on Wednesday stormed East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, according to a Palestinian official.
"Around 60 Jewish settlers forced their way into the compound under the protection of Israeli police,” Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a Jordan-run organization responsible for overseeing the city’s Islamic sites, told Anadolu Agency.
He said hardline member of Knesset (Israel’s parliament) Yehuda Glick was among the settlers who toured the site.
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 Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Middle East War. It formally annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as its capital in a move never recognized by the international community.
Meanwhile, hundreds of settlers visited a shrine in the West Bank city of Nablus, triggering clashes with Palestinian youths, according to local residents.
“Around 1000 settlers stormed the Joseph’s shrine, where they performed rituals under the protection of Israeli forces,” Palestinian activist Ahmed Shamekh said.
He said Israeli forces fired rubber bullets and tear gas canisters to disperse angry Palestinians, who gathered to protest the settlers’ tour.
Around 20 Palestinians were reportedly injured.
Joseph's Tomb has long been a flashpoint for potential violence. Jews believe the site to be the burial place of the biblical patriarch Joseph. Muslims, however, challenge this claim, saying an Islamic cleric – Sheikh Yussef Dawiqat – was buried at the site two centuries ago.