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Israel: Settlers break into al-Aqsa mosque compound on Rosh Hashanah

As Israel celebrates the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, right-wing groups called for storming of al-Aqsa compound
Jewish-Israeli settlers enter the al-Aqsa compound through the Moroccan Gate in occupied East Jerusalem on the holiday of Rosh Hashanah (Facebook/AlQastalps)

Dozens of right-wing Jewish Israelis entered the al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem flanked by Israeli police and security forces on Wednesday, as Israel celebrates the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.

Local media reported that almost 156 settlers entered al-Aqsa through the Moroccan Gate on the western side of the compound, which has been controlled by the Israeli authorities since the beginning of the occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967.

Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa reported that Palestinian worshippers and guards at al-Aqsa said they felt uncomfortable with the presence of Israeli police and settlers touring the Muslim holy site, adding that they saw these tours as "provocative".

Al-Aqsa is one of Islam's most revered sites and is also the holiest site in Judaism, where Jews believe the first and second Jewish temples once stood.

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As Israel celebrated Rosh Hashanah from Monday until Wednesday, Israeli right-wing groups have called for the storming of the al-Aqsa compound in a bid to increase Jewish presence on the site.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday morning Israeli forces fired tear gas and stun grenades at Palestinian residents in Silwan, a neighbourhood south of Jerusalem's Old City and al-Aqsa that is facing Israeli demolition and expulsion orders, Wafa reported.

Conflict over al-Aqsa

Israeli settler groups regularly enter the al-Aqsa compound - which they refer to as the Temple Mount - during religious holidays.

In July, dozens of far-right Israeli settlers broke into Jerusalem's al-Aqsa compound one day before the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha. On 18 July, they also forced their way into al-Aqsa on the anniversary of what Israel calls "the destruction of the temples".

Israel occupied East Jerusalem - where al-Aqsa is located - during the 1967 Middle East war.

It annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move unrecognised by the vast majority of the international community.

Israeli far-right activists have repeatedly pushed for an increased Jewish presence at al-Aqsa, despite a longstanding joint guardianship agreement between Israel and Jordan, which retains custodianship over Christian and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem and bars non-Muslim prayer at the site.

Settlers backed by Israeli forces regularly break into al-Aqsa Mosque to tour around the Dome of the Rock, a mosque built in the 7th century by the Syrian Umayyad empire on Moriah Mount and perform prayers on the site.

Some right-wing Israeli activists have advocated for the destruction of the al-Aqsa mosque compound to make way for a Third Temple.

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