Hundreds of Jewish settlers forced their way into Jerusalem’s flashpoint the Al-Aqsa mosque on Sunday, in a rare tour in the final days of the fasting month of Ramadan, a Palestinian official said.
“Some 1,179 Jewish extremists stormed the compound since morning,” Omar Kiswani, director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, told Anadolu Agency.
“In a massive violation of the holy month of Ramadan, the settlers broke into the compound through Al-Mugharbah gate under the protection of Israeli police,” he said.
The settler tour has triggered clashes inside the flashpoint site between Israeli police and Muslim worshippers, who gathered to protest the tour.
Three worshippers and one guard were reportedly arrested by Israeli forces.
Sunday’s clashes came amid calls by Jewish groups for settlers to converge on the site to mark what they call the “reunification of Jerusalem”.
Israel has illegally occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
In a move never recognized by the international community, Israel annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as the self-proclaimed Jewish state’s “eternal and undivided” capital.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
International law continues to view both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territory.