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  • Israeli settlers broke into Al-Aqsa mosque to pray illegally for Yom Kippur.

    Israeli settlers broke into Al-Aqsa mosque to pray illegally for Yom Kippur. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 October 2019

Non-Muslim prayers are not allowed at Al-Aqsa which is the third holiest site for Muslims. But settlers, with the security from Israeli forces, often violate the rules. 

Israeli settlers broke into the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in East Jerusalem Tuesday to mark the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. 

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Around 300 settlers, guarded by the Israeli military police and escorted by an MP broke into the third holiest site of Islam and a place of conflict in the occupied region. Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and Yehuda Glick, an MP from the right-wing Likud party were part of the group who broke in. 

Both Ariel and Glick have advocated for settlers to be able to enter the Al-Aqsa compound and pray there. 

Al-Aqsa has been one of the most sensitive issues in the conflict. The mosque, which is called Temple Mount by Israel, is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest site for Muslims. At present, the mosque is administered by the Muslim Waqf board and secured by Israeli police. 

According to a longstanding joint guardianship agreement between Israel and Jordan, non-Muslim prayers are not allowed at Al-Aqsa. But settlers, with the security from Israeli forces, often violate the rules. 

Israeli settlers regularly enter the mosque illegally to perform prayer as they believe the Second Jewish temple stood there once. Glick had demanded the destruction of the mosque and building a Third Jewish Temple. 

Palestinians believe that settlers breaking into Al-Aqsa might undermine their right to Jerusalem’s Old City and East Jerusalem as their capital. 

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 War and later annexed the city in a move not recognized by the international community. Israel considers Jerusalem as their undivided capital wheres Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Israel's claim over the city has been emboldened by the recent decision by the U.S. government of Donald Trump to recognize the city as the capital of Israel and moving its embassy in the country from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. 

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