JERUSALEM, Wednesday, July 3, 2019 (WAFA) – Israel Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Uri Ariel Wednesday morning headed a group of extremist Israeli settlers in a provocative tour in al-Aqsa Mosque compound, in the occupied city of Jerusalem.
Ariel and 42 settlers were heavily protected by Israeli police and special forces as they forced their way into the Muslim mosque compound through Bab al-Maghariba (the Moroccan Gate). Similar tours by Israeli ministers and lawmakers in the past led to tensions and sometimes clashes with Muslim worshipers and the Jordan-run Islamic Waqf personnel in charge of running the compound.
Israeli settlers regularly enter the area, and often perform rituals on the site.
Some right-wing Israeli activists have advocated for the destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to make way for a Jewish temple.
Palestinians fear that settler tours inside the Al-Aqsa compound may undermine their right to the area, and further extinguish their aspirations for full rights and a state of their own, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The Al-Aqsa mosque is the third holiest site in Islam. It was also Islam‘s first Qibla, the direction towards which Muslims must turn to pray, before that was changed to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.