Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel on Tuesday forced his way into East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, according to a Palestinian official.
"Ariel along with 10 Jewish settlers stormed the al-Aqsa mosque [compound] and toured the area under the protection of Israeli forces,” Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for Jerusalem’s Jordan-run Religious Endowments Authority, said in a statement.
Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, the director of Al-Aqsa mosque, for his part, blamed the Israeli government's support for the increasing number of visits by Israeli ministers and Knesset (parliament) members to the holy site.
"The Al-Aqsa mosque is facing repeated Israeli attacks in an attempt to change the status quo inside the mosque,” he told Anadolu Agency.
Al-Kiswani went on to call on the Arab and Islamic worlds to defend Al-Aqsa mosque against the continued Israeli violations.
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.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.