A far-right Israeli member of the Knesset entered the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday, witnesses said, as Israeli forces continue to restrict the entry of Palestinians into the holy site.
An AFP photographer said MK Moshe Feiglin visited the compound in East Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday, only a couple of days after Israeli mayor Nir Barkat forced his way into al-Aqsa under heavy police protection.
Feiglin is a hard-line member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right wing Likud bloc and a leading advocate for increased Zionist access to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Meanwhile, men and women under 40 have been banned from entering the mosque since dawn prayer at around 4:30 am, witnesses told Ma’an News Agency. Several employees of the Ministry of Endowment who work inside the compound, in addition to students there, were also denied entry by Israeli police officers.
On Saturday night, Palestinian protesters clashed again with Israeli around East Jerusalem.
Seventeen Palestinian protesters were detained in the renewed clashes, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said, raising to 111 the number arrested in protests since October 22.
In recent months, groups of extremist Zionist settlers – often accompanied by Israeli security forces – have repeatedly forced their way the al-Aqsa Mosque complex.
The frequent violations anger Palestinians and occasionally lead to violent confrontations.
For Muslims, al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site.
Housing Minister Uri Ariel on Sunday joined in calls for Israel to change the status quo by allowing Jews not only to visit the compound but also to pray there.
“Jews must be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount. There is enough room for everybody,” he argued, using the Jewish name.
Netanyahu, who has repeatedly said he has no intention to change the status quo, on Saturday urged the far right to act “responsibly” in the face of mounting tensions.
Since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, an agreement with Jordan has maintained that Jewish prayer be allowed at the Western Wall plaza – built on the site of a Palestinian neighborhood of 800 that was destroyed immediately following the conquest – but not inside the al-Aqsa mosque compound itself.
As Israel continues to restrict the entry of Palestinian worshipers into al-Aqsa for the sixth week in a row,
On Thursday, Israeli authorities closed al-Aqsa to all visitors after Palestinian youths clashed with forces following the fatal assassination of Muataz Hijazi, a Palestinian suspected of attempting to murder hardline Zionist rabbi Yehuda Glick.
Though, Israeli authorities, under pressure, reopened al-Aqsa on Friday, they deployed hundreds of additional forces in and around the site and denied Palestinians under 50 entry.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.
In September 2000, a visit to the site by controversial Israeli leader 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.
Source: Al-Akhbar English