Israel has banned the deputy director of the Jerusalem Waqf Department from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for six months.

“I have received an Israeli order banning me from Al-Aqsa Mosque for six month,” Sheikh Najeh Bakirat told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

He said the Israeli authorities have given no reason for the ban.

Bakirat noted that Israeli police and intelligence had raided his office last week, citing a threat to Israel’s security.

Israel had banned Bakirat from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque for 23 times since 2001 and detained him 13 times.

“I reject this Israeli ban order,” he said. “This is an Israeli attempt to empty Al-Aqsa Mosque and disrupt the work of the Waqf department in Jerusalem,” he added.

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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