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Knesset deputy speaker, settlers storm Al-Aqsa complex
Knesset deputy speaker, settlers storm Al-Aqsa complex
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World Bulletin/News Desk

As many as 89 Israeli settlers forced their way into Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday amid heavy police protection, a Palestinian official said.

"Knesset Deputy Speaker Moshe Feiglin was among those who stormed the complex," Sheikh Omar al-Qiswani, the Palestinian director of the Al-Aqsa complex, told Anadolu Agency.

"The Israeli military had sealed the gates of the complex in a move that has become all too familiar," el- Qiswani added.

However, the Israeli police in a statement said that it has decided to open the site for visitors.

On a another note, the Israeli police said that its troops had detained 17 Palestinians in Jerusalem for throwing rocks at Israeli buses and police cars, Israeli Channel 7 reported.

That raised the number of Palestinians detained in Jerusalem since the end of October to 111, the report said, noting that police asserted its forces will continue arrests in the coming days to bring calm back to Jerusalem.

Tensions remain high in Jerusalem after Israeli forces on Thursday killed a young Palestinian man – who had been suspected of shooting extremist rabbi Yehuda Glick a day earlier – in a raid on his East Jerusalem home.

Abbas welcomes call for calm 

Feiglin has made several high-profile visits to Temple Mount in recent months, sometimes sparking clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police.

As his campaign has gathered steam, Netanyahu has reiterated that the complex's status quo will not be changed, but his reassurances have done little to calm Palestinian concerns, or those of Muslims further afield, particularly in Jordan.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who also spoke to Kerry about the tensions in Jerusalem, welcomed Netanyahu's calls for restraint.

"Assaults and provocations by fanatics will lead to grave consequences," he said. "It will create a status of instability and tension both in Palestine and in the region and that is what we do not want to happen."

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.

In September 2000, a visit to the site by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the "Second Intifada," a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.