Palestine: Scores of Israelis storm Al-Aqsa compound for Passover

22nd Apr 2019
Palestine: Scores of Israelis storm Al-Aqsa compound for Passover

By Fatima Abu Sbitan

 

JERUSALEM (AA): Scores of Jewish settlers forced their way into East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover. Armed Israeli soldiers and police provided protection to settlers as they provocatively toured the compound.

“Israeli police allowed 167 settlers to storm the compound in celebration of Passover,” an official with the Religious Endowments Authority, a Jordan-run authority responsible for overseeing the city’s Muslim and Christian holy sites, told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity.

He said the commander of Israeli police was among the settlers who forced their way into the flashpoint site.

Passover, which commemorates the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt during the time of Prophet Moses, is considered one of the most important holidays on the Jewish religious calendar.

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-wing attempts to unsettle the status quo at the site, and coincide with restrictions on Palestinian access, including bans on entrance and detentions.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces have almost entirely sealed the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip, excluding humanitarian cases, for more than a week, for Passover, preventing scores of Palestinians with Israeli-issued permits from access their work, in Jerusalem and the rest of Israel.

Last year, more than 1,500 settlers forced their way into the Al-Aqsa compound during Passover.

For Muslims, the 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 during the 1967 Middle East War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the Jewish state in a move never recognized by the international community.

[Archive Photo: 1000 jewish settlers invade Al Aqsa mosque compound on 22 July 2018. Photographer: Mostafa  Alkharouf/AA]

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