JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Dozens of Israeli rightists entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Tuesday under heavy police guard, locals said.
Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, the director of Jerusalem endowments and al-Aqsa affairs, told Ma'an that 150 Jewish extremists entered the mosque compound via the Mughrabi gate.
The group walked along the eastern wall and exited through the al-Salsala gate. The rightists formed groups and performed religious rituals, including songs, al-Khatib said.
Witnesses said that 80 members of Israeli intelligence entered the mosque compound.
Head of the Islamic Higher Commission, Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, told Ma'an 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. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
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.