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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 March 2019

Israeli settlers storm Al Aqsa Mosque compound

Tensions at the site have raised fears of violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in Jerusalem

A picture taken on March 1, 2019 shows the Dome of the Rock at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem. AFP
A picture taken on March 1, 2019 shows the Dome of the Rock at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem. AFP

More than sixty Israeli settlers stormed the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on Wednesday, heightening tensions at the flashpoint site.

At least "69 Jewish settlers stormed the holy compound through the Al Mugharbah gate," Firas Al Dibs, a spokesman for the Jordanian-Palestinian Islamic Waqf, or trust, that oversees the site.

Israeli authorities have banned dozens of Palestinians from entering the site after clashes with Israeli forces last month following the closure of the Al Aqsa Mosque's Rahma Gate.

The holy site in occupied East Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, is at the heart of the decades-long conflict. Jews are banned from the praying at the site but the Israeli military has maintained a military occupation of the surrounding area since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the city in 1980 but the international community never recognised this move.

Muslims consider the site to be the third-holiest in Islam after Makkah and Medina.

Palestinians believe that Israel is attempting to change the status quo at the site in different ways, for example installing metal detectors to search Palestinians after a shooting attack in Jerusalem in 2017.

Perceived Israeli moves at the holy site initiated the wave of Palestinian attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians across Jerusalem and the West Bank in late 2015.

Updated: March 6, 2019 04:24 PM

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