Scores of Israeli settlers forced their way into the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in East Jerusalem early Sunday amid tensions over a planned flag march by settlers through the occupied city, according to eyewitnesses, Anadolu Agency reported.
Witnesses said Israeli police stormed the mosque courtyard and allowed settlers into the site through the compound’s Al-Mugharbah Gate
Far-right lawmaker Itamar BenGvir, a notorious Israeli opposition figure, and a number of his supporters were reportedly among those who stormed the complex on Sunday.
According to witnesses, Israeli police chased Palestinian worshipers inside the complex. A number of worshipers were reportedly detained by Israeli forces.
READ: Israeli police clash with anti-settlement activists, 3 arrested
The settler intrusion into the Al-Aqsa complex comes as Israeli settlers plan to stage a controversial flag march to mark what they call the day of unifying Jerusalem, in reference to Israel’s occupation of the city in 1967.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the Temple Mount, saying it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Since 2003, Israel has allowed settlers into the compound almost daily.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move never recognized by the international community.