Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa compound as Palestinians prepare to commemorate Nakba
Israeli settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on Sunday, as Israeli security forces imposed heavy restrictions on Palestinian worshippers entering the mosque.
The storming coincided with Palestinians marking the 74th anniversary of the Nakba – the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their land by Zionist militias during the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
Palestinian guards from the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf (Religious Endowment) told The New Arab's Arabic-language service that dozens of settlers took part in the incursions into the mosque courtyard, under the protection of Israeli security forces.
The settlers were led by extremist rabbis including Eliyahu Weber and Yitzchak Brand.
Also on Sunday, scores of Palestinian worshippers, including women, had their identity cards temporarily confiscated by Israeli security forces. The security forces also stopped Palestinian children attending school near the mosque.
The settlers' storming of the mosque came in response to calls by Jewish extremist groups including "The Temple Mount Faithful".
The groups seek to demolish the Al-Aqsa Mosque – Islam's third most holy site – and rebuild a Jewish temple which is believed to have existed on the mosque's current site in ancient times.
The settlers storm the mosque's courtyard on a regular basis and often perform religious practices there.
On Saturday night, settlers also attacked Palestinian vehicles on the road leading from Nablus to Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, near the town of Termes'iyah. Car windows were smashed but no one was injured.
Settlers also stormed the Palestinian village of Haris near Salfit in the northern West Bank on Sunday morning, under the protection of Israeli security forces who fired tear gas at village residents.
Israeli forces were on high alert across the West Bank on Sunday morning as Palestinians prepared to mark the anniversary of the Nakba.