By Anees Barghouti
Scores of Jewish settlers and Israeli forces on Tuesday forced their way into Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to mark the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, a Palestinian official said.
"Around 206 settlers backed by Israeli police have stormed the Al-Aqsa compound through Al-Mugharbeh gate since morning," Sheikh Omar al-Qiswani, the director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, told Anadolu Agency.
He said the settlers have tried to perform Talmudic ritual at the site.
According to Qiswani, Jewish extremist groups have called on supporters to converge on Al-Aqsa compound this week to mark the Jewish Sukkot holiday.
"Israeli authorities, meanwhile, have restricted the entry of Muslim worshipers into the Al-Aqsa compound," he complained.
Sukkot is a week-long holiday, which started Sunday evening and will continue until the following Sunday.
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 -- a move never recognized by the international community.