JERUSALEM : Hundreds of Israeli settlers on Sunday forced their way into the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
Sukkot is a week-long holiday, which started Sept. 29 and continues until Oct. 6, ending a season of Jewish holidays that started by observing the Rosh Hashanah (New Year) holiday on Sept.15.
In a statement, the Jordan-run Islamic Waqf Department said Israeli forces closed the Al-Mughrabi Gate, southwest of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, “after allowing 602 Jewish extremists” into the site.
According to witnesses, Israeli settlers entered the site in groups.
The Palestinian Jerusalem Governorate published a video on its Facebook account of Jewish settlers trying to enter animal sacrifices inside the complex.
Israeli police began allowing the settler incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in 2003, despite repeated condemnations from Palestinians.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, a move never recognized by the international community. — AA