Al-Aqsa clashes as MKs tour compound

Clashes broke out March 20 between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli forces in the al-Aqsa compound following a visit by a right-wing Israeli MK, locals said. Witnesses told Ma'an news Agency that Likud MK Moshe Feiglin and a number of other right-wing politicians entered the mosque compound via the Moroccan Gate and toured the courtyards. Worshipers shouted "Allah Akbar" at the group before Israeli forces raided the compound and began assaulting them with clubs. In response, young Palestinians began throwing stones at the Knesset members, forcing them to leave the compound. Several worshipers and Shariah law students sustained bruises and one of them was treated at a clinic in the Aqsa compound. An Israeli police spokesperson said two Palestinians were detained for throwing stones at Feiglin.

The controversial Likud MK has stated in the past that Palestinians in Israel should be relocated and there is no such thing as a Palestinian people.

Due to the sensitive nature of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israel maintains a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls the compound—overseen by Jordan—to restrict the area for Muslim prayers. Israeli forces, however, regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, often leading to tension with Palestinians. 

The compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque and is the third holiest site in Islam. It is also venerated as Judaism's most holy place as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

From Ma'an News Agency, March 20

  1. Israel plans 2,269 new West Bank settlement homes

    Israel has progressed with plans for more than 2,000 new homes in six Jewish settlements across the West Bank an official said Marcj 20, in a move likely to further endanger peace talks. Guy Inbar, a spokesman for the defense ministry unit responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, said a ministry committee had furthered existing plans for 2,269 homes at a meeting last month. (Maan

    Israeli forces meanwhile closed all entrances to the village of Burin near Nablus, preventing locals from leaving or entering their village, hours after a Molotov cocktail was thrown at an Israeli settler bus as it was passing by the nearby village of Madama. (Maan)

  2. Thousands pray in streets amid Aqsa mosque restrictions

    Thousands of Palestinian worshipers performed Friday prayers in the streets of Jerusalem on March 21 after Israeli authorities imposed age restrictions on entering the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. Men under 50 were forced to pray in the streets as Israeli authorities imposed restrictions around the Old City to accommodate the Jerusalem Marathon.

    Some 100 Palestinians tried to disrupt the annual Jerusalem marathon, police said, as activists called for a boycott of the race through the Holy City. Police arrested four of them and dispersed the rest. (Maan, Maan)