The Israeli police have lifted a ban on the entry of Israeli settlers into occupied East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque complex after a 10-day hiatus, Israeli media reported Thursday, according to Anadolu Agency.
According to Israeli public radio, police will allow Jewish settlers to resume visiting the flashpoint religious site “starting next week”.
During the last week of Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr (the three-day holiday that follows the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan), police had prohibited Jewish settlers — and all non-Muslim visitors — from entering the site.
Anadolu Agency said the decision was taken late last month after a large number of settlers entered the Al-Aqsa compound, triggering three days of intermittent clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian Muslim worshippers.
In recent years, groups of extremist Jewish settlers — typically under heavy police protection — have staged forays into the mosque complex with increasing frequency and in growing numbers.
The visits come despite the objections of the Jordan-run Authority for Islamic Endowments, which is responsible for overseeing Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites.
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.
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 2000, a visit to Al-Aqsa by hardline 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 all of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state in a move never recognized by the international community.