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Hundreds of illegal Israeli settlers storm Al Aqsa Mosque compound

More than 1,500 illegal Israeli settlers have forced their way into the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem during the Jewish holiday of Passover.

In a statement, the Islamic Endowments Department in Jerusalem said 1,532 settlers stormed Al Aqsa Mosque on Monday.

It said the settlers stormed the compound in 21 groups escorted by the Israeli police.

Earlier, the Israeli police prevented Palestinians under the age of 50 from entering Al Aqsa Mosque to perform prayers, witnesses said.

The witnesses said that police forces were deployed in the Al Aqsa courtyard before allowing groups of dozens of settlers to storm it through the Mughrabi Gate in the western wall of the mosque.

The police also removed a number of worshipers from the courtyards of Al Aqsa Mosque during the settlers’ incursions.

On Sunday, the Islamic Endowments Department in Jerusalem said 912 settlers stormed Al Aqsa Mosque on the Jewish Passover holiday, which continues until April 12.

Rising tensions 

Tension escalated across Palestinian territories after Israeli forces stormed the Al Aqsa Mosque complex in East Jerusalem and forcibly removed worshippers last week.

The Israeli raids on the mosque triggered rocket fire from Gaza and Lebanon, with Israel retaliating with airstrikes.

Palestinians accuse Israel of systematically working to Judaize East Jerusalem, where Al Aqsa is located, and obliterate its Arab and Islamic identity.

For Muslims, Al Aqsa represents the world’s third-holiest site. Jews, for their part, call the area the Temple Mount, saying it was the site of two ancient Jewish temples.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognised by the international community.

READ MORE: Israel announces restrictions on Palestinian entry to Al Aqsa in Ramadan

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