Backed by police, Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa mosque compound for second day
A group of Israeli settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem early on Monday, marking the second day in a row such an incursion has taken place.
"A number of Jewish extremists stormed the compound this morning, entering from the Mughrabi gate," one of the guards told Arabi21.
"Jewish extremists stormed the compound with the protection of Israeli police and a strikingly large number of Israeli special forces, which we have not seen in the past," the guard told the Arabic-language outlet.
On Sunday, the Palestinian foreign ministry warned that repeated Israeli settler incursions into the Al-Aqsa mosque compound risked undermining efforts to maintain a ceasefire and revive the peace process between Palestinians and Israel.
Scores of Israeli settlers forced their way into the flashpoint compound under police protection on Sunday after a hiatus of three weeks, according to the Jordan-run Islamic Waqf Department, which oversees holy sites in Jerusalem.
Local sources told The New Arab’s Arabic-language site that Israeli police barred young Palestinians from entering the site and imposed restrictions on the entry of worshippers into the complex.
The continued settler incursions "amount to a disregard of efforts aimed at stabilising the calm and reviving the peace process", a ministry statement said.
The ministry also slammed "the Israeli restrictions and siege on the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem and the repression of its residents", warning that Israeli violations c0uld lead to a return to violence.
Tension escalated across the Palestinian territories last month when an Israeli court ruled to forcefully drive out Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in favour of settler groups.
The situation worsened after Israeli forces raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque and assaulted worshippers inside.
The tension spread to the Gaza Strip, with Israel launching a campaign of relentless bombardment that killed at least 248 Palestinians, including 66 children and 39 women, and injured more than 1,900 others.
Health authorities in the West Bank also confirmed 31 were killed in the occupied region, totalling 279 across all Palestinian territories.
Twelve Israelis were also killed in Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. The fighting, the fiercest in years, came to a halt on Friday under an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.