JERUSALEM

Scores of Israeli settlers on Wednesday forced their way into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem, according to a Palestinian agency.

The Islamic Endowment Department in Jerusalem said in a statement that 174 settlers under Israeli police protection broke into the flashpoint site.

Usually, Israeli settlers storm the complex every day in the morning and afternoon through its Al-Mughrabi Gate, southwest of the mosque.

Israeli police began allowing the settler incursions in 2003, despite repeated condemnations from the Islamic Endowment Department.

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, a move never recognized by the international community.

*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat in Ankara

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