Israeli forces detain 2 Palestinians at Aqsa mosque
Published Wednesday 25/12/2013 (updated) 26/12/2013 20:00
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli police officers detained two young Palestinian men from the al-Aqsa Mosque after a group of Jewish rightists entered the compound Wednesday morning.
Witnesses told Ma'an that Muhsin Abu Sweib from Jerusalem and Abdullah Akkawi from Acre were detained Wednesday morning. Both are students learning Islamic teachings in the al-Aqsa compound.
The onlookers added that a group of 24 rightists escorted by large numbers of police officers entered the compound while Muslim worshipers shouted in protest against the entry of the Israelis into the holy Muslim place.
Because of the sensitive nature of the Al-Aqsa compound, Israel maintains a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls it to not allow non-Muslim prayers in the area. Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, leading to tension with Palestinian worshipers.
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 Jewish religious leaders, Jews are forbidden from entering for fear they would profane the "Holy of Holies," or the inner sanctum of the Second Temple.
Al-Aqsa is located in East Jerusalem, a part of the internationally recognized Palestinian territories that have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.