Israeli minister enters Al-Aqsa compound under guard

Photo: Israeli minister enters Al-Aqsa compound under guard / Arab-Israel Relations

Israeli housing minister Uri Ariel visited the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Wednesday under Israeli police protection Maan reported.

Witnesses said that Ariel, who is a member of the far-right Jewish Home party, headed a tour group of some 100 right-wing religious students and Rabbis.

The group entered through the Mughrabi gate and exited through the Chain gate. The tour lasted around 45 minutes.

Last week, Ariel said that Israel should have full sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa compound and that the site must be open "at any hour to every Jew."

The minister's comments and a series of recent of visits by Israeli rightists have created a sense of fear among Al-Aqsa authorities about control of the holy site.

Head of the Islamic Higher Commission, Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, told Ma'an Tuesday that repeated incursions by Jewish extremists "confirm Israeli ambitions and the risks to the mosque."

He pointed to the division of the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron, which is separated into two parts.

The compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and 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.

According to mainstream religious leaders, Jews are forbidden from entering for fear they would profane the "Holy of Holies" the inner sanctum of the Second Temple.

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