A far-right Israeli member of the Knesset entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem on Sunday as entry was restricted for Palestinians, witnesses said.
An AFP photographer said MK Moshe Feiglin visited the compound in East Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday, in spite of calls for restraint from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The hard-line member of Netanyahu’s rightwing Likud bloc is a leading advocate for increased Jewish access to the compound, which is home to the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque.
He was met with protests from Muslims crying “Allahu akbar” (God is the greatest).
Meawhile, men and women under 40 have been banned from entering the mosque since dawn prayer at around 4:30 a.m., witnesses told Ma’an. Several employees of the Ministry of Endowment who work inside the compound, in addition to students there, were also denied entry by Israeli police officers.
Police however told AFP that no restrictions were in place.
Al-Aqsa and adjacent neighborhoods have seen months of violence, with the mosque compound a rallying point for Palestinian resistance to right-wing Jewish attempts to take control of it.
Housing Minister Uri Ariel on Sunday joined in calls for Israel to change the status quo by allowing Jews not only to visit the compound but also to pray there.
“Jews must be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount. There is enough room for everybody,” he argued, using the Jewish name for the site which is sacred to both religions.
Netanyahu, who has repeatedly said he has no intention to change the status quo, on Saturday urged the far right to act “responsibly” in the face of mounting tensions.
Israel on Thursday ordered a rare closure of the compound, after youths clashed with police following the fatal shooting of Muataz Hijazi, a Palestinian suspected of trying to murder hardline Jewish rabbi Yehuda Glick.
The area reopened the next day with Israel deploying hundreds of additional police, who prevented entry for Muslim men under 50.