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Right-wing Jews tour Al-Aqsa compound

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Dozens of right-wing Jewish Israelis entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound under the protection of Israeli forces on Sunday morning to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.

Director of the compound Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani said that tensions quickly rose after the group of up to 50 right-wing Jewish Israelis began to perform religious rites near the compound’s Golden and the Chain Gates.

Israeli police officers reportedly arrested a right-wing Jew after he swore at one of the compound’s Palestinian guards.

“As the numbers of Jews who broke into the compound increased, more worshipers shouted ‘Allahu Akbar,’ and in response 12 Israeli special force officers stormed the compound to protect the settlers,” al-Kiswani said.

Witnesses said that as the group left through the Chain gate, they performed religious dances and other rituals in order “to provoke Muslim worshipers.”

The third holiest site in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is also venerated as Judaism’s most holy place as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.

Following Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has maintained an agreement with the Islamic trust that controls the Al-Aqsa compound not to allow non-Muslim prayer in the area.
Jewish prayer is allowed at the neighboring Western Wall, which is the last remnant of the Second Temple.

However, Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to Al-Aqsa, leading to anger among Muslim worshipers. The Jewish holiday of Shavuot, celebrated this year on May 24, marks the day Jews believe God gave the Torah to the Jewish people while they were gathered on Mount Sinai. MAAN

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