Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem for 2nd day

Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem for 2nd day

Settler visits to Al-Aqsa compound resumed after 3-week suspension

By Abdelraouf Arna'out
JERUSALEM (AA) – Dozens of Israeli settlers on Monday forced their way into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem for the second day in a row after a hiatus of three weeks, according to a Palestinian agency.


In a statement, the Jordan-run Islamic Waqf Department, which oversees the holy sites in Jerusalem, said around 80 settlers entered the complex through the Al-Mugharbah Gate under the protection of Israeli police.


The statement, however, didn't report any clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian worshippers.


On Sunday, scores of Israeli settlers visited the flashpoint site under police protection for the first time in three weeks.


Tension escalated across the Palestinian territories since last month over an Israeli court verdict to evict Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem in favor of settlement groups. The situation flared up after Israeli forces raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque and assaulted worshippers inside.


The tension spread to the Gaza Strip, with Israel launching airstrikes that killed at least 248 Palestinians, including 66 children and 39 women, and injured more than 1,900 others. Health authorities in the West Bank confirmed that 31 were also killed in the occupied territory, totaling 279 across all Palestinian territories.


Twelve Israelis were also killed in Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. The fighting, the fiercest in years, came to a halt on Friday under an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire.


Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world's third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.


Since 2003, Israel has allowed settlers into the compound almost on a daily basis.


Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.


Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

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