80 Israeli soldiers storm Al Aqsa compound in Jerusalem
Israeli soldiers pictured in the al-Aqsa mosque compound on Oct. 8. (Image courtesy of Maan Images/Al-Aqsa Foundation)
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Dozens of Israeli troops and intelligence agents entered the al-Aqsa mosque compound on Tuesday through the Moroccan Gate, locals said.
Witnesses told Ma'an that over 80 female Israeli soldiers entered the compound and listened to a short lecture before touring the compound in seven groups.
Over 30 Israeli intelligence officers and six rightist Israelis also toured the mosque compound, locals said.
The Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage said that plain-clothes Israeli intelligence agents escorted by five uniformed officers deployed in the compound early Tuesday.
The compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and 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.