A group of far right Jewish settlers have stormed the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, despite a heavy security forces presence, witnesses said.
Sunday’s raid came as Jewish organisations called for their followers to be permitted to visit the al-Aqsa during Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.
Witnesses told Al Jazeera that more than 30 settlers, accompanied by members of the Israeli special forces, entered the al-Aqsa in three groups.
The Media Centre for the Jerusalem and al-Aqsa affairs group said Muslim worshippers “repelled the raid by shouting ‘God is Great’.”
Sources in the Palestinian Ministry of Islamic Endowment told Al Jazeera that security had been tightened around the mosque compound and new security checkpoints have been set up during Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, which began on Sunday and will last for eight days.
Visits by Jewish groups, including politicians, to the al-Aqsa, one of Islam’s holiest sites have triggered often deadly violence in recent months.
Palestinians fear that Israeli hard-liners are trying to take control of the site.
Under the current arrangements, Jews are allowed to visit the site, known as the Temple Mount in Judaism, but non-Muslim prayer is banned.