Israeli settlers mark Jewish holiday of Hanukkah in Al-Aqsa Mosque
In a new provocation that threatens the status quo in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israeli settlers marked the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah by lighting candles in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for the first time in the history of Islam's third-holiest site, also claimed by Jews as the site of the 'Temple Mount'.
This marks a precedent, according to an employee of the al-Awqaf, the body entrusted to manage the affairs of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, who spoke to TNA's Arabic sister site Al-Araby al-Jadeed on condition of anonymity.
Jewish settlers feel at liberty now to mark their holidays in the Haram al-Sharif. Watch video of a settler lighting Hanukkah candles not far from the Dome of the Rock. This is happening as the Israeli police shut the doors of the Al Aqsa in front of Muslim worshippers. pic.twitter.com/8U2VV6ZKlK— Ibrahim Husseini | إبراهيم الحُسيني (@husseiniibrahim) December 14, 2023
The Israeli police have restricted Muslim entry to the holy site following the October 7 Hamas attack that precipitated Israel's brutal war on Gaza.
Friday prayers, once attended by tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers, now only draw 3,000 to 4,000 people who struggle to get past Israeli police checkpoints.
Even the elderly are sometimes barred from entering the Al-Aqsa.
The Israeli police often limit Muslim entry to the Al-Aqsa during the morning hours but allow radical Israeli setters inside the compound.
In July, during the Jewish holiday of Tisha Ba'av, Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel's far-right minister, stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque under heavy Israeli police protection. Minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf, from Ben-Gvir's far-right Otzma Yehudit party, and Likud MK Amit Halevi were among the intruders.
Messianic settlers have often repeated calls for the building of a Jewish temple in the Haram al-Sharif, which houses the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
Following the 1967 war, Israel took possession of Bab al-Maghareba or Morrocon Gate and designated it for non-Muslim visitors.
In recent years, routine repair works at the site have been increasingly hampered by interference from the Israeli police.
Israel illegally annexed East Jerusalem following the June war of 1967.