Palestinian worshippers clash with Israelis who entered Al Aqsa for Hanukkah celebrations
Palestinian worshipers clashed with a group of rightist Israelis who entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Wednesday under armed guard.
Witnesses told Ma'an that a group of extremists led by Yehuda Glick, who chairs the Temple Mount Heritage Fund, entered the mosque compound through the Moroccan Gate.
Palestinian worshipers hurled fireworks at the group and shouted 'Allah Akbar' in opposition to the visit. Shortly afterward, Israeli police officers escorted the group out of the compound via the Chain Gate.
Earlier, Israeli officers had deployed heavily in the Al-Aqsa courtyards and locals said they harassed a group of worshipers, including visitors from Turkey.
A group of Palestinian worshipers were forcibly evicted from the area by Israeli police, who were carrying out extensive checks on worshipers trying to enter the holy site.
The Al-Aqsa Foundation said Tuesday that Jewish organizations, without naming them, had submitted an application to Israeli ministers to erect a Hanukkah candle in the Al-Aqsa compound.
In early November, an Israeli parliamentary committee held a heated debate on whether to begin allowing Jews to pray on the compound housing the Al-Aqsa mosque.
Due to the sensitive nature of the Al-Aqsa mosque, Israel maintains a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls the compound to restrict the area for Muslim prayers.
Israeli forces, however, regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, leading to tension with Palestinian worshipers.
The compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque and is the third holiest site in Islam.
It is also venerated as Judaism's most holy place as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
According to mainstream Jewish religious leaders, Jews are forbidden from entering for fear they would profane the "Holy of Holies," or the inner sanctum of the Second Temple.
Al-Aqsa is located in East Jerusalem, a part of the internationally recognized Palestinian territories that have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.