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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Israeli Settlers Enter al-Aqsa for Hanukkah

22.12.11 - 22:44 

On Thursday morning, more than a hundred Israeli settlers entered the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem under the protection of Israeli police on the occasion of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. No clashes were reported in the extremely sensitive area.

The Dome of the Rock, part of the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem (Brendan Work, PNN).

Director of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, told PNN that more than 120 settlers entered the mosque under the name of a “foreign tourism program.” They entered through the al-Mughrabi gate, which is owned and operated by Israel and left through the al-Silsila, or Chain Gate.

Al-Khatib said that there were no confrontations between them and the worshipers at the mosque. He also said that he was sorry the settlers chose to commemorate Jewish festivals in such a way. 

Al-Khatib said that the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf typically refuses such foreign tourism programs. 

The al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits on the Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, is one of the three most holy sites in Islam, revered as the site from which the prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven. In 2000, then-Israeli PM Ariel Sharon walked on the Haram al-Sharif—which Jews and some Christians call the Temple Mount—setting off the Second Intifada.

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