More than 1,000 Israeli settlers forced their way into the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex on Sunday, amid tension over a planned settler incursion into the flashpoint site, according to a Palestinian agency.
In a statement, the Islamic Endowment Department in Jerusalem said that 1,210 settlers broke into the complex through its Israeli-controlled Al-Mughrabi Gate, southwest of the mosque, and performed their rituals inside.
According to eyewitnesses, groups of settlers attempted to storm the complex through the Bab Huta Gate and King Faisal Gate but were confronted by Palestinian worshippers.
Earlier Sunday, Israeli forces shut all entrances and gates to the Al-Aqsa complex.
Israeli settler groups have called on supporters to force their way into Al-Aqsa complex in large numbers on Sunday to mark what they call the “destruction of the temple” in ancient times.
The so-called Sovereignty Movement in Israel is also preparing to organize a march for settlers around the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem on the same day.
On Saturday, hundreds of settlers staged a march in occupied East Jerusalem ahead of their planned incursions on Sunday.
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.
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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