Hundreds of Israeli rightists enter al-Aqsa mosque

Al-Aqsa_Mosque_BW_2010-09-21_06-38-12JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Over 300 Israeli rightists entered the al-Aqsa compound on Sunday, a local foundation said.

The al-Aqsa foundation said that four groups consisting of rabbis, families and rightists entered the mosque compound via the Mughrabi Gate under heavy armed guard and toured the area.

Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, the director of Islamic endowment told Ma’an that around 342 rightists entered the area for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

Eyewitnesses said that a group of rightists tried to perform religious rituals but were prevented from doing so by Palestinian worshipers.

“The break in to al-Aqsa is unacceptable to the Islamic Waqf and this number of incursions within a few hours is unprecedented,” al-Khatib said.

He called for the Mughrabi Gate to be closed to Israeli rightists immediately.

The compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque and is the third holiest site in Islam.

It is also venerated as Judaism’s most holy place as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.

According to mainstream religious leaders, Jews are forbidden from entering for fear they would profane the “Holy of Holies” the inner sanctum of the Second Temple.