More than 100 Israeli settlers storm Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque to celebrate Purim

JERUSALEM: More than 100 Israeli settlers forced their way into the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex on Sunday to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim, according to a Palestinian agency.

In a statement, the Jordan-run Islamic Waqf Department, which oversees the holy sites in Jerusalem, said the settlers entered the site through the mosque’s al-Maghariba Gate under police protection.

The settler incursion came amid rising tensions across the West Bank over Israel’s deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip, which killed more than 32,200 people since last October following a Hamas attack.

At least 450 Palestinians have been killed and 4,750 others injured by Israeli army fire in West Bank since Oct. 7, 2023, according to the Health Ministry.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognised by the international community.

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