Israel restricts Palestinian access to Al-Aqsa Mosque for Purim

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities imposed on Tuesday restrictions on Palestinians wishing to worship at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem during the Jewish holiday of Purim.Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, the general director of the Jerusalem endowment and al-Aqsa mosque affairs department, told Ma’an that Israel had imposed restriction on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and banned all Palestinian men under the age of 50 from entering the compound.Extremists right-wing Israeli groups have called for raids of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during Purim wearing masks traditionally worn during the holiday.Israeli forces closed Al-Aqsa Mosque on Tuesday after preventing 17 Palestinians from entering the compound and detaining them.This year, Purim begins on Wednesday evening and ends late on Thursday.The Al-Aqsa compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque. 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. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.Following Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has maintained a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls the Al-Aqsa compound to not allow non-Muslim prayers in the area. Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, however, leading to tension with Palestinian worshipers.

(Source / 22.03.2016)

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