Hundreds of Israeli settlers on Tuesday forced their way into Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to celebrate the week-long Jewish holiday of Passover, according to a Palestinian authority.
Since the morning, some 313 settlers backed by Israeli police officers have stormed the compound, Jerusalem’s Religious Endowments Authority said in a statement.
More settlers are expected to tour the holy site following the noon prayer, it added.
According to the Religious Endowments Authority, 440 settlers had stormed the Al-Aqsa complex on Monday.
Israeli settler groups have called on supporters to converge on the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in celebration of Passover, which began on March 27 and lasts until April 3.
Passover, which commemorates the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt during the time of Prophet Moses, is considered one of the most important holidays on the Jewish religious calendar.
Since 2003, Israel has allowed settlers into the flashpoint compound almost on a daily basis with the exception of Fridays and Saturdays.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
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.
*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz