Dozens of far-right Israelis toured the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound early on Monday under heavy police protection, official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.
According to Wafa, the Israelis entered the compound through the Morrocans’ Gate while dozens of Palestinian Muslim worshipers were attending a religious seminar in the courtyard of the compound.
While Jewish visitation is permitted to the compound, non-Muslim worship at Al-Aqsa is prohibited according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.
Despite the agreement with Jordan — which is the custodian of Al-Aqsa — Israeli authorities regularly allow Jewish visitors to enter the site, often under armed guard. Such visits are typically made by right-wingers attempting to unsettle the status quo at the site, and coincide with restrictions on Palestinian access, including bans on entrance and detentions.
According to extremist Israeli organization Yeraeh, which pushes for the destruction of Al-Aqsa in order to build a Third Temple in its place, at least 17,000 Jews have visited the compound between October and July, marking a 15 percent increase over the previous year.
Wafa reported that dozens of Muslim worshipers have been sleeping overnight at Al-Aqsa in the wake of a 13-day long civil disobedience campaign in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank in July to denounce security measures installed at the Al-Aqsa compound following a deadly shooting attack on July 14.
The measures sparked widespread protests, as Palestinians said the Israeli move was the latest example of Israeli authorities using Israeli-Palestinian violence as a means of furthering control over important sites in the occupied Palestinian territory and normalizing repressive measures against Palestinians.
Six Palestinians were killed by Israelis when demonstrations were violently repressed, before Israeli forces backtracked and removed the surveillance cameras and metal detectors put up at the entrance of the compound.