Saudi Arabia condemns storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque by radical Israeli settlers
Dozens of radical Jewish settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem for a second day on Monday, accompanied by Israeli security forces, as Saudi Arabia condemned the raid.
The storming coincided with the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.
More than 140 Israeli settlers raided the mosque compound from the early hours until 9 am local time, the spokesman for the Islamic Endowments Department in Jerusalem, Mohammed Al-Ashhab, told The New Arab’s sister site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
He said they wore what are known as 'Temple garments' and performed Talmudic prayers close to the Bab Al-Rahma prayer hall.
The settlers also performed provocative dances outside the mosque gates.
Translation: Zionist settlers raid Al-Aqsa Mosque on the occasion of Yom Kippur, protected by Israeli occupation forces
Al-Aqsa is the third holiest site in Islam, after Mecca and Medina which are located in Saudi Arabia. Jews consider the compound the most sacred site in their religion, believing it to be the location of their two ancient temples.
Some Jewish extremists either want to replace the mosque with a third temple or see the site split between Jews and Muslims in terms of time and space available. Extremists have repeatedly stormed the Al-Aqsa compound, where by a long-standing convention non-Muslims are not allowed to pray.
On Sunday, some 400 extremists stormed the Muslim holy place in under an hour, led by former Knesset member Rabbi Yehudah Glick, a source in the Islamic Endowments Department in Jerusalem told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
Israeli security forces have deployed thousands of troops and police in and around the Old City and at the crossroads leading to Al-Aqsa, the Western Wall, and the town of Silwan, cordoning off the areas for Yom Kippur.
The Saudi Foreign Affairs Ministry on Monday condemned what it described as "provocative practices carried out by a group of extremists at Al-Aqsa Mosque".
It also expressed "the Kingdom's regret over the practices carried out by the Israeli authorities that undermine international peace efforts and contradict international principles and norms in respecting religious sanctities."
Saudi Arabia and Israel are currently in talks to normalise relations. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week said the two countries were getting closer to an agreement.
However, Riyadh has also said that Palestinian statehood and its recognition by Israel was essential to any normalisation deal.
Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of any potential future state of theirs. Israel illegally occupied and annexed the eastern half of Jerusalem following the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and says that the whole city is its "eternal capital".
Israeli forces and settlers have killed over 200 Palestinians in attacks in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the start of this year.