Hundreds of Israeli settlers on Wednesday forced their way into East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, according to a Palestinian official.
“Since morning, over 330 settlers have poured into the compound, accompanied by about 20 policemen,” Firas al-Dibis, an official with Jerusalem’s Jordan-run Religious Endowments Authority, said in a statement.
“Settlers forced their way in through the Al-Mugharbeh Gate and toured the compound before leaving through the Al-Silsila Gate,” he added.
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 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the Jewish state -- a move never recognized by the international community.