Israelis storm al-Aqsa Mosque during Passover holiday

Israelis storm al-Aqsa Mosque during Passover holiday
Tens of thousands of Jewish Israelis have flocked to Jerusalem's predominantly Arab Old City, with dozens flouting the holy site's regulations and entering the al-Aqsa compound.
2 min read
27 April, 2016
Jews are allowed to visit the site but not to pray inside [Getty]

Israeli extremists have broken into the flashpoint al-Aqsa Mosque compound in east Jerusalem for the fourth day in a row, as Jewish residents continue to celebrate the week-long Passover holiday.

Two groups of around 50 people, believed to be from far-right messianic groups, entered the compound early on Wednesday under police protection and shouted racist and provocative chants and held prayers, local media reported.

On Tuesday, Israeli police ejected nine Jews from al-Aqsa for flouting the rules of Islam's third holiest site.

Two Palestinian employees of the Islamic "waqf" foundation which administers the site were detained on Tuesday for allegedly attacking Jewish visitors to the site.

Ahmad Badr, a mosque guard, and Basem Zghayar, a foundation employee, were released after questioning and were banned from returning to work for 15 days.

The compound, known to Muslims as the al-Aqsa mosque and to Jews as the Temple Mount, is holy to both religions.

      The violations come amid seven months of violence [Getty]

Jews are allowed to visit the site but not to pray there, and tensions are frequently heightened when Jewish activists try to ignore the rule and Muslims intervene to stop them.

Since the beginning of Passover, more than 500 Jewish activists have broken into the courtyards of the mosque.

There is a heightened Israeli security presence at the site for the week-long Passover holiday, when tens of thousands flock to the Old City.

Tensions are high in Israel following a wave of violence that has killed more than 200 Palestinians and 28 Israelis since October.

Palestinian officials say the attacks are the result of despair from living under Israeli occupation. Israel blames them on incitement by Palestinian religious and political leaders that is compounded on social media sites that glorify and encourage attacks.

On Wednesday, Israeli police shot a Palestinian couple after the woman allegedly attempted to stab security forces on the outskirts of Jerusalem.