Scores of Jewish settlers forced their way into occupied East Jerusalem's flash-point Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday to mark the Jewish Shavuot holiday, a Palestinian official has said.
"At least 60 Jewish settlers in groups-backed by Israeli police-stormed the holy compound through the Al-Magharbeh Gate," Sheikh Omar al-Qiswani, Al-Aqsa Mosque director, told Anadolu Agency.
"The settlers inspected the complex, passing by the Al-Qibali and the Dome of the Rock mosques, and tried to perform Talmudic rituals before leaving the compound through the Al-Silsila Gate," he said.
Al-Qiswani added that the Israeli army had detained five Palestinians inside the holy complex and transferred them to a detention center in Jerusalem's Old City.
Tension has run high at the flashpoint site since Sunday morning against the backdrop of calls by several Jewish organizations for supporters to enter the holy site en masse to mark the holiday.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it-in addition to West Jerusalem-as the unified capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state in a move never recognized by the international community.
In September 2000, a visit to Al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the "Second Intifada," a popular uprising against Israel's decades-long occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.
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