‘Jewish settlers tried to perform Talmudic rituals near the Al-Qibali mosque,’ says Al-Aqsa Affairs director-general.
More than 130 extremist Jewish settlers on Sunday forced their way into East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, where they tried to perform Talmudic rituals, a Palestinian official has said, Anadolu Agency Reported.
“Around 135 extremist settlers stormed the mosque holy compound through Al-Mugharbeh gate under the protection of Israeli police officers,” Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, director-general of Al-Aqsa Affairs, told Anadolu Agency.
“The Jewish settlers tried to perform Talmudic rituals near the Al-Qibali mosque and the Dome of the Rock but they were prevented from doing so by Muslim worshipers and the mosque guards,” he said.
Four Palestinians were detained and two extremist Israelis were evacuated from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday morning as dozens of Israelis toured the site to perform rituals in celebration of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.
Firas al-Dibs, spokesperson for the Waqf (Islamic Endowment) that controls the compound, said subsequent groups of more than a hundred extremist Israelis entered the site through the Moroccan gate, accompanied by Israeli police and special forces.
Al-Dibs said dozens of right-wing Israelis performed rituals at Al-Aqsa’s gates, while witnesses said Israelis were also attempting to perform rituals inside Al-Aqsa Mosque itself, in violation of rules regarding non-Muslim prayer at the holy site.
According to al-Khatib, dozens of Jewish settlers, however, managed to perform Talmudic rituals at Al-Qataneen and Lions gates.
“The [Jordan-run] Religious Endowments Authority condemns these provocative incursions by Jewish settlers,” al-Khatib said.
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.
Following Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has maintained an agreement with the Waqf not to allow non-Muslim prayer in the area.
Jewish prayer is allowed at the neighboring Western Wall, which is the last remnant of the Second Temple.
However, Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to Al-Aqsa, leading to anger among Muslim worshipers.
Hundreds of Israeli extremists toured the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound earlier this month celebrating the 49th anniversary of the occupation of the Palestinian territory, three of which were evacuated while two Palestinian women were detained.
Thousands of Israelis marched through the Muslim Quarter in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City to commemorate the day, shouting anti-Palestinian chants, harassing Palestinian shop owners, and waving Israeli flags.
The Jewish holiday of Shavuot marks the day Jews believe God gave the Torah to the Jewish people while they were gathered on Mount Sinai.
The incident comes as Muslims celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, during which 83,000 Palestinians residing in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip have had their permits revoked to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and their families in Israel — following a deadly gun attack in Tel Aviv last week — in a move the UN said could amount to “collective punishment.”
Some extremist Jewish groups have called for the demolition of the Al-Aqsa Mosque so that a Jewish temple might be built in its place.
In September 2000, a visit to the flashpoint religious site by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the “Second Intifada,” a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the Jewish state in a move never recognized by the international community.