JERUSALEM (AA) – Hundreds of Jewish settlers on Tuesday forced their way into East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, according to a Palestinian official.
“Three hundred settlers stormed the holy compound and performed Talmudic rituals near the Dome of the Rock Mosque,” Firas al-Dibs, a Palestinian official with Jerusalem’s Religious Endowments Authority, told Anadolu Agency.
He said settlers were backed by dozens of Israeli policemen, who arrested two authority employees and a Palestinian worshiper.
“The settlers stormed the compound through the Al-Magharbah Gate and stayed for five hours before leaving through the Al-Silsila Gate,” he added.
According to al-Dibs, extremist Jewish groups had called on followers to converge on the Al-Aqsa to mark the weeklong Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
Tension has mounted in the Palestinian territories — including occupied East Jerusalem, where the Al-Aqsa is located — since U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
For Muslims, the 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 during the 1967 Middle East War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the Jewish state in a move never recognized by the international community.