Israel Knesset member storms Al-Aqsa compound amid clashes
According to an eyewitness, the Israeli police stormed the site in the early morning while firing stun grenades and tear-gas at Palestinian worshippers
Palestinian worshippers restricted from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque so they pray in streets of Jerusalem 10 Oct.
Published date: 13 February 2015 02:00 UTC | Last update: 5 years 11 months ago
By Abdel-Raouf Arnaout
JERUSALEM (AA) – Deputy Knesset Speaker Moshe Feiglin forced his way into Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem early Monday under heavy protection by the Israeli police amid clashes between Muslim worshippers and Israeli troops inside the holy complex.
"The Israeli police allowed Feiglin to storm the mosque's courtyards under their protection," Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Jordan-run Organization for Muslim Endowments and Al-Aqsa Affairs, told Anadolu Agency on phone from the holy site.
The intrusion came amid clashes between young Muslim worshippers and Israeli police who stormed the holy site in the early hours of the morning and tried to forcibly evict the Palestinian worshippers, eyewitnesses said.
"The Israeli police are still besieging an unspecified number of worshippers inside al-Qibali Mosque [inside the compound] amid firing of stun grenades and teargas at the worshippers within," al-Khatib added as sounds of teargas firing resounded in the background.
Palestinian NGO Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowments and Heritage, meanwhile, said that at least 58 Jewish settlers stormed the holy site – also under protection of Israeli police.
"The occupation forces are besieging al-Qibali Mosque and firing a shower of teargas canisters and stun grenades at the worshippers who took refuge in the mosque following the dawn prayers when the Israeli forces stormed the site," the foundation said in a statement.
The Israeli troops also closed all gates of the compound and barred Palestinian employees and Muslim religious students from entering the holy site, it added.
"The military intrusion in such an early hour is a dangerous escalation," the NGO added.
The Israeli police, meanwhile, said its forces entered the compound and dispersed a group of Palestinian youths carrying stones, fireworks and petrol bombs.
According to an eyewitness, the Israeli police stormed the site in the early morning while firing stun grenades and teargas, leaving over 10 worshippers with temporary asphyxiation.
The storming by the Israeli police came after the force personnel imposed restrictions on the entry of Muslim worshippers into the holy site.
On Saturday, Feiglin called for storming Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday on the occasion of Sukkot, one of the three Jewish pilgrimage festivals, which started on Wednesday and lasts for a week.
In the invitation posted on his web site, Feiglin called on Jews to gather outside the mosque compound at 6:30am on Monday before storming the site.
In recent months, groups of extremist Jewish settlers – usually accompanied by Israeli security forces – have repeatedly forced their way into the holy site.
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 prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.
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 Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.
In September 2000, a visit to the site by controversial 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.