Dozens of Israeli settlers have forced their way into the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem to mark the fifth day of Sukkot, according to the Islamic Waqf Department.
Since Sunday, thousands of settlers have been carrying out provocative tours of the mosque complex following calls by ultranationalist Jewish groups.
According to Jewish law, entering any part of the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, also known as the Temple Mount, is forbidden for Jews due to the sacred nature of the site.
Sukkot is a weeklong holiday, which started on September 29 and will continue until Friday.
Israeli settlers stormed the complex on Wednesday in groups through the al-Mughrabi Gate by the Western Wall near Al-Aqsa Mosque and attempted to perform “Talmudic rituals”, according to a Waqf official.
Police imposed age restrictions and prevented young Palestinians from entering the mosque during the incursions, witnesses told the Anadolu news agency.
The Israeli army forced Palestinians to shut down their stores in the Old City to allow Jewish prayers to take place. The Palestinian Wafa news agency reported that Israeli forces prevented a number of Waqf employees from entering the holy Islamic site in the morning.
Meanwhile, Israeli police on Wednesday arrested five people suspected of spitting towards Christians or churches in the Old City of Jerusalem and formed a special investigative team to deal with growing complaints of hostile gestures against Christians.
“Unfortunately, we witness the continued disgraceful acts of hatred towards Christians in the Old City of Jerusalem, primarily through spitting by extremists,” said Jerusalem District Commander Doron Turgeman on Wednesday.
No details were provided on the identities of the people arrested.
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