Dozens of Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa mosque to celebrate Purim festival

Jerusalem: Dozens of Israeli settlers, on Thursday, forced their way into the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish holiday—Purim.

In photos and videos from the scene, shared on social media shows dozens of Israeli settlers, one of them dressed as a white monk, are praying silently in Al-Aqsa Square while the occupation police escort and protect them.

Purim is a two-day Jewish holiday, and this year ends on the evening of Thursday, March 17. Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar, which generally falls in late winter or early spring.

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On Wednesday, March 16, almost 198 Jewish settlers entered the site on the first day of Purim. 

It is reported that, on March 17, almost 120 sraeli settlers protected by Israeli special forces had broken into al-Aqsa at 7 am local time from the Moroccan Gate.

In recent years, the number of Jewish worshipers praying quietly at the site has increased.

Al-Aqsa mosque

Al-Aqsa is located on a plaza at Temple mount, which is known in Islam as the Haram-e-Sharif. The mount is also considered the holiest site in Judaism. The most imposing structure on the compound is the Dome of the Rock, with its golden dome. The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall to the Jews, is one side of the retaining wall of the Al-Aqsa compound.

Al-Aqsa is the focus of rival claims on Jerusalem. Both Israel and Palestine have declared it their capital. In July 1980, the Israeli parliament approved the Jerusalem law and declared it the capital of the state. The 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence also declared Jerusalem the capital. The Palestinian Authority is currently headquartered in Ramallah.

Shortly after the end of the six-day war in 1967, Israel returned to Jordan the administration and organization of the Al-Aqsa compound. While non-Muslims were not allowed to worship at Al-Aqsa, Jewish individuals and groups made repeated attempts to enter the Temple mount plaza.

Since the late 1990s, around the time of the first Intifada, these attempts began to occur regularly as Jewish settlers began to claim land in and around East Jerusalem. And this led to frequent clashes and tensions in Al-Aqsa.

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