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Israeli forces raid al-Aqsa Mosque for third time since start of Ramadan

Officers clear courtyards to allow Israeli settlers to enter and hold Passover prayers at the occupied East Jerusalem holy site
Israeli forces raided al-Aqsa Mosque for the first time during Ramadan on Friday (Reuters)

Israeli forces stormed al-Aqsa Mosque for the third time since the beginning of Ramadan early on Monday, clearing worshippers from courtyards to allow Israeli settlers to enter the occupied East Jerusalem holy site and hold prayers to mark the Jewish Passover holiday.

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The Palestinian news agency Wafa said large numbers of officers had entered the area and snipers had been positioned on the roofs of the mosque and adjacent buildings.

Large numbers of Israeli settlers spread across the courtyards and were observed praying by Wafa's correspondent.

The correspondent said Israeli forces had fired rubber-coated metal bullets and obstructed the work of medics and the press crews inside the courtyards, as well as assaulting women in the vicinity of the Dome of the Rock.

People under the age of 25 were also prevented from entering the mosque.

Far-right Israeli activists and settler groups had announced plans to storm al-Aqsa this week in large numbers, starting from Sunday, to mark Passover. 

The Islamic Waqf, a joint Jordanian-Palestinian trust that administers the affairs of al-Aqsa, recorded more than 500 settlers entering during this period.

On Monday, Jordan's foreign ministry summoned the Israeli envoy in Amman and demanded an "immediate stop to violations" in al-Aqsa mosque. 

The foreign minister said in a statement that "Israel's measures to change the status quo on the Mount are a dangerous escalation".

"Israel bears full responsibility for the consequences of the current escalation that is thwarting efforts invested to bring about calm. Israel police have no right to organise visits by non-Muslims there. Only the Muslim Waqf does," it added.

Israeli forces raided al-Aqsa Mosque for the first time during Ramadan on Friday. During a second raid on Sunday, hundreds of Israelis, protected by heavily armed forces, continuously stormed the courtyard of the mosque in different groups. 

Several Palestinians were injured on Sunday and others were detained by Israeli security forces. 

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The Palestinian health ministry said two Palestinian men were critically injured by Israeli forces on Monday during a raid in the village of Yamun, west of Jenin, in the northern West Bank. Wafa said the two men were being treated in hospital.

The news agency also reported that Israeli forces had closed the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron in preparation for Israeli settlers to storm it and celebrate Passover.

The Hebron Endowments Directorate told Wafa that the mosque had been closed at 10pm on Sunday and would not be allowed to open for two days.

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