Jerusalem / PNN /
Hundreds of Israeli Jewish settlers have been storming the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem since the early morning hours of Sunday, backed and heavily guarded by Israeli occupation forces.
The Islamic Waqf, the Jordanian-run authority in charge of the affairs of the mosque, said groups of Israeli Jewish settlers have been breaking into the compound in groups under the pretext of celebrating the Jewish holiday of Passover.
Tensions have been mounting across the occupied Palestinian territories and neighboring countries over the past two weeks against the backdrop of massive Israeli raids on the holy site to secure the entry of extremist settlers on Passover, which coincides with the holy month of Ramadan.
The Israeli occupation forces set up many checkpoints around the Old City of Jerusalem this early morning to secure the way of the Israeli settlers into and out of the mosque, and many Palestinian Muslim worshipers were reportedly assaulted and harassed by the Israeli police which denied them entry into the holy site during the presence of the Israeli settlers.
Many worshipers who had been staying inside the mosque for worship during the late night hours were also forcibly removed from the holy site by Israeli police to clear the site for incursions by Israeli Jewish settlers.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holies place for Muslims around the world after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
Israel captured East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa Mosque is located, during the Six-Day War in 1967 in a move never recognized by the international community.