Jewish settlers converge on J'lem's Aqsa Mosque complex

JERUSALEM (AA) – Hundreds of Jewish settlers forced their way into East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Thursday, according to a Palestinian official.

“Some 200 settlers stormed the compound under the protection of Israeli police,” Firas al-Dibs, a Palestinian official with Jerusalem’s Religious Endowments Authority (which oversees the city's Muslim and Christian holy sites), said in a statement.

According to al-Dibs, the settlers were accompanied by Israeli MP Shuli Mualem of the right-wing Jewish Home party.

In June, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lifted a three-year ban on Israeli government officials and lawmakers visiting Al-Aqsa, allowing members of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) to visit the flashpoint site once every three months.

In late 2015, Netanyahu had banned MPs from entering the Al-Aqsa compound in an effort to calm tensions that had erupted across the Israeli-occupied West Bank following repeated incursions by Jewish settlers into 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 annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as its “eternal and undivided” capital in a move never recognized by the international community.

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Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa mosque, Nablus shrine

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.

Hundreds of Jewish settlers storm Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa

JERUSALEM (AA) – Hundreds of Jewish settlers on Thursday stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem for the fourth day in a row, according to a Palestinian official.

“Over 930 settlers and police officers raided the mosque compound, where they performed Talmudic rituals,” Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for Jerusalem’s Religious Endowments Authority (a Jordan-run organization responsible for overseeing the city’s Muslim and Christian holy sites), told Anadolu Agency.

“Since early this morning, settlers have forced their way into the compound through the Al-Mugharbah Gate and left through the Al-Silsila gate,” he said.

According to al-Dibs, dozens more Jewish settlers are expected to converge on Al-Aqsa later today.

Al-Dibs said “dozens” of Israeli policemen had been deployed inside the Al-Aqsa compound and outside its gates.

“Police have also restricted the entry of Palestinian Muslim worshipers into the mosque by confiscating their ID cards at the compound’s entrances,” he said.

Since last Friday, over 2,700 Israeli settlers and policemen have entered the compound to mark the weeklong Jewish holiday of Sukkot, which will end on Sunday.

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 earlier this year.

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.

– West Bank arrests

In a related development, the Israeli army rounded up 11 Palestinians from their homes across the occupied West Bank in overnight raids, according to an Israeli army statement released Thursday morning.

According to the statement, the individuals were detained for what the army described as “suspected involvement in popular terrorist activities”.

The statement did not elaborate as to the precise meaning of “popular terrorist activities”.

Detained Palestinians have since been remanded into custody for further investigation, according to the army.

Israel frequently conducts sweeping arrest campaigns across the occupied territories on the pretext of searching for “wanted” Palestinians.

According to Palestinian figures, some 6,500 Palestinians are currently languishing in Israeli prisons, including scores of women, some 350 minors and at least six lawmakers.

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.

Settlers storm J'lem's Al-Aqsa, Palestinians detained

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.

Scores of Jewish settlers enter Al-Aqsa for Yom Kippur

By Abdelraouf Arnaout

JERUSALEM (AA) – Scores of Jewish settlers on Wednesday forced their way into Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa compound to mark the second day of the Jewish Yom Kippur holiday, according to a Palestinian official.

“At least 159 Jewish settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa compound on Wednesday,” Firas al-Dibs, an official with Jerusalem’s Jordan-run Religious Endowments Authority, said in a statement.

Often backed by Israeli police, settlers frequently enter the mosque compound through the western Al-Magharbeh Gate.

Earlier this week, Jewish extremist groups called on supporters to converge on Al-Aqsa on Tuesday and Wednesday to mark Yom Kippur, one of the most important holidays on the Jewish calendar.

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 Arab-Israeli War. In 1980, Israel unilaterally annexed the entire city, claiming it as its “eternal and undivided” capital.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army has imposed a general closure on the occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip for the duration of the holiday, which will end Wednesday evening.

According to an army statement, all checkpoints between Israel and the West Bank and between Israel and Gaza will remain closed for both days.

The army is expected to impose another general closure on the West Bank and Gaza during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot from Sept. 23 to Oct. 1.

Settlers enter Al-Aqsa in force to mark Jewish holiday

JERUSALEM (AA) – Hundreds of Jewish settlers and Israeli police forced their way into East Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Tuesday to mark the Jewish Yom Kippur holiday, according to a Palestinian official.

“Since morning, almost 300 Jewish settlers, backed by police, stormed the mosque compound through the Al-Magharbeh Gate,” Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for Jerusalem’s Jordan-run Religious Endowments Authority, told Anadolu Agency.

“Settlers toured the complex, passing by the Al-Qibali and Dome of the Rock mosques, where they performed Talmudic rituals — including dances — before departing through the Al-Silsila Gate,” he said.

Al-Dibs also said the Israeli authorities had restricted the entry of Muslim worshipers into the compound while allowing settlers to freely enter the site.

At one point, he added, Israeli police had assaulted employees of the Religious Endowments Authority, which is mandated with overseeing East Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites.

“Five Palestinians were arrested during the melee, while four others were assaulted and later treated inside the compound,” al-Dibs said.

Earlier this week, Jewish extremist groups called on supporters to converge on Al-Aqsa on Tuesday and Wednesday to mark the Jewish Yom Kippur holiday.

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. In 1980, Israel unilaterally annexed the entire city, claiming it as its “eternal and undivided” capital.

In a related development, the Israeli army has imposed a general closure on the occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip for the duration of the Yom Kippur holiday, the army said in a statement.

According to the statement, all checkpoints between Israel and the West Bank and between Israel and Gaza will remain closed — except for urgent “humanitarian” cases — from Tuesday to Thursday.

“During this period, Palestinians are prohibited from entering Israel for any reason, including for work,” the statement read.

The army is expected to impose another general closure on the West Bank and Gaza during the upcoming Jewish Sukkot holiday from Sept. 23 to Oct. 1.

Bosnian leader visits Jerusalem

By Said Amouri

JERUSALEM (AA) – Bakir Izetbegovic, the Bosniak member of the tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on Wednesday visited Jerusalem and prayed at Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Izetbegovic was met by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leading figure Adnan al-Husseini and the grand mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Mohammed Hussein.

During the visit, al-Husseini referred to the similarity between Palestine and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the common religious coexistence between Muslims and Christians.

The mufti of the Palestinian territories Sheikh Mohammed Hussein said that "Israel is not trusted to be responsible on the Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem".

He pointed out that these sites "are exposed to grave dangers as a result of Israel's actions that are contrary to the most basic human rights and international conventions."

Izetbegovic arrived in Ramallah earlier Wednesday from Jordan for a one-day state visit to Palestine.

Dozens of Jewish settlers storm Al-Aqsa compound

JERUSALEM (AA) – Dozens of Israeli settlers forced their way into East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Tuesday, according to a Palestinian official.

“As much as 190 Jewish settlers stormed the holy compound through the Al-Mugharbah gate,” Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a Jordan-run organization responsible for overseeing the city's Islamic sites, said in a statement.

He said the settlers were joined by at least 20 Israeli policemen during the tour.

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.

Last year, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on the U.S. to withdraw its recognition of the flashpoint city as Israel's capital.

UPDATE – Israel expands mixed-gender prayer area at Western Wall

*UPDATES WITH CONDEMNATION FROM JERUSALEM ISLAMIC WAQF

By Abdul Raouf Arnaout

JERUSALEM (AA) – The Jerusalem Municipality has approved a plan to expand the mixed-gender prayer area of Jerusalem’s Western Wall, Israeli daily Haaretz reported Monday.

The plan was approved by municipal officials following pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to Haaretz, the scheme won approval under a special regulation that created a fast-track process authorizing the municipal engineer to approve work to make a site handicapped-accessible.

The plan also includes expansion of the mixed-gender prayer area and its entrance.

The mixed-gender prayer area is inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, where male and female Jews perform rituals together, a move opposed by Ultra-Orthodox Jews.

The expansion plan quickly invited condemnations from the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a Jordan-run organization responsible for overseeing the city's Islamic sites.

“This is a blatant attack on the endowment of Muslims,” it said in a statement, going on to call on UNESCO to intervene to stop Israeli Judaization measures in the area.

“This proves that these Judaization projects…are meant to drastically change the religious and historical status quo in Jerusalem,” it warned.

For Muslims, the Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site after Mecca and Medina. 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 Arab-Israeli War, annexing the entire city 13 years later in a move never recognized by the international community.

In late 2000, a visit to Al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked a years-long popular uprising against Israel’s decades-long occupation in which thousands of Palestinians lost their lives.

Israel expands mixed-gender prayer area at Western Wall

By Abdul Raouf Arnaout

JERUSALEM (AA) – The Jerusalem Municipality has approved a plan to expand the mixed-gender prayer area of Jerusalem’s Western Wall, Israeli daily Haaretz reported Monday.

The plan was approved by municipal officials following pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to Haaretz, the scheme won approval under a special regulation that created a fast-track process authorizing the municipal engineer to approve work to make a site handicapped-accessible.

The plan also includes expansion of the mixed-gender prayer area and its entrance.

The mixed-gender prayer area is inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, where male and female Jews perform rituals together, a move opposed by Ultra-Orthodox Jews.

For Muslims, the Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site after Mecca and Medina. 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 Arab-Israeli War, annexing the entire city 13 years later in a move never recognized by the international community.

In late 2000, a visit to Al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked a years-long popular uprising against Israel’s decades-long occupation in which thousands of Palestinians lost their lives.