Ten Israeli right-wing settlers have been arrested in Jerusalem's Haram al Sharif (The Noble Sanctuary) compound after raising an Israeli flag and singing and dancing near the Holy al-Aqsa mosque area.
The compound, known to Jews as Temple Mount, sits just above the Western Wall plaza and has been closed to visitors following the incident. Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, the director of Islamic endowment, said that he asked Israeli police not to allow Israeli extremists to enter the area.
The al-Aqsa compound has been stormed several times by Jewish extremists recently. Dozens of Israeli troops and intelligence agents had also been seen entering the holy site through the Moroccan gate. Witnesses said they saw over 80 female Israeli soldiers entering the compound. About 30 Israeli intelligence officers and six right-wing Israeli extremists were also observed touring the mosque compound.
Temple Mount or Haram al-Sharif, which houses both the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque, is venerated by both Jewish and Muslims. It is considered Jews' most holy site as it is the place where God chose the Divine Presence to rest, from where God gathered dust to create Adam, and also the location where Abraham tied up Isaac. It was also the place where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood. The Second Temple was destroyed by Romans in 70AD.
According to mainstream Judaism, Jews are forbidden from entering Temple Mount for fear they would stumble upon and profane the "Holy of Holies," or the inner sanctum of the Second Temple
The Mount is Islam's third holiest site after Mecca and Medina. It is considered to be the place where Muhammad travelled to Jerusalem and ascended to heaven.
The site has been administered by an Islamic Waqf since the crusaders. Both Israel and the Palestinian authority claim sovereignty over the area. Al-Aqsa is located in East Jerusalem which is internationally recognised as occupied Palestinian territories by Israel since 1967.