Over 500 extremist settlers storm Al-Aqsa, raise flags on Israel's 'Independence Day'

Over 500 extremist settlers storm Al-Aqsa, raise flags on Israel's 'Independence Day'
Among the settlers who encouraged Tuesday's raid of the Al-Aqsa complex is the Lehava group, known for its Jewish supremacist and anti-assimilation views.
3 min read
14 May, 2024
Extremist settlers raised Israeli flags inside Al-Aqsa in an act of provocation against Palestinians [Getty/file photo]

Extremist Israeli settler groups on Tuesday stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex carrying out provocative acts against Palestinians as Israel marks its 76th 'Independence Day'.

The settlers raised Israeli flags inside the area where Islam's third-holiest site is located, performed Talmudic prayers and sang loudly, the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf confirmed in a statement.

The extremist settlers' actions were condemned "in the strongest terms" by the Jordanian-run body responsible for administering the site.

The Jerusalem Waqf stated that the incursions were carried out amid a strong police presence in the mosque and surrounding areas, whose large number was aimed at preventing worshippers from entering the premises.

"Over the past few days, the Endowments Council has been monitoring the size of the crowding and media incitement by extremist groups against the Blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, through their calls and threats to target the mosque via raids on the occasion of what is known as the occupying state's 'Independence Day'," the body said.

"This scandalous violation was added to an unending series of unprecedented violations against the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque."

The Council urged the Arab and Islamic world to "assume their responsibility towards one of the most important mosques for Muslims" and to pressure the Israeli government to halt its violations of the holy site, where only Muslims are allowed to enter.

At least 526 settlers stormed Al-Aqsa on Tuesday, according to data provided by the body.

Among the groups calling for the provocative incursion was the far-right and Jewish supremacist Lehava organisation, whose members have been sanctioned and banned on social media for inciting violence.

Last week, Lehava appeared to incite the storming of Al-Aqsa by hanging a huge banner on a building overlooking a main street in West Jerusalem which said: "On Independence Day, we will raise the flag in the mosque", the New Arab's Arabic sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.

Another organisation, 'Women for the Settlement Temple', launched similar calls to storm Al-Aqsa, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed said. 

Prominent Al-Aqsa preacher and former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Ekrima Sabri called for the mosque to be protected from the looming settler incursion.

Political analyst Rasem Obaidat told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the Lehava group "ultimately seeks to transfer control of Al-Aqsa from Muslims to Jews, as stated in the narratives of this extremist settlement organisation". 

Live Story

Extremist Israeli settlers frequently storm the holy Muslim site in a bid to provoke Palestinian Muslim worshippers amid Israel's occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which has been ongoing since 1967.

Last month, over 600 settlers stormed the complex during the Jewish holiday of Passover. 

Hamas cited the frequent storming of the holy site as one of the main reasons for its 7 October attack on Israel, which killed around 1,200 people and sparked the Gaza war.

At least 35,173 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since then by Israeli forces and the territory has been completely devastated, with Israel accused of "genocide" by human rights groups, NGOs, and several governments.

Israel celebrates its 'Independence Day' on May 14. Its establishment in 1948 was marked by the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes, in an event called the Nakba (Catastrophe).