Worshippers outside of Al Aqsa

Some 18,000 Jewish settlers and Israeli security forces stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during 2016, an official study revealed.

The study, which was published by the London-based Daily 48 agency – known as Palestinians 48, has reported that the figure is considered the largest since the Israeli occupation on Jerusalem “Al-Quds” in 1967.

According to the study, the Israeli worshippers had comprised 14,103 settlers – most of whom seemed to be part of the core group of Temple Mount activists, 2,259 Jewish students, and 815 police and intelligence forces.

The month of October have witnessed the largest record number of Jewish settlers who entered Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem, as coinciding with a three-week period of Jewish holidays (3-15 October), under the protection of armed police officers and forces.

During the same month, Israel has suspended cooperation with UNESCO a day after the UN cultural body passed a resolution that sharply criticised Israeli policies around Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, while supposedly rejecting Jewish ties to the holy site in occupied East Jerusalem.

The resolution condemned Israel for restricting Muslims access to the site, and for aggression by police and soldiers. It also recognised Israel as the occupying power, according to Al-Jazeera.

Iran’s Press TV has reported that, in November, the Israeli forces killed one Palestinian in East Jerusalem and carried out sweeping arrest campaigns, targeting Palestinian residents in the Israeli-occupied city.

Although Jordan is one of the only two Arab countries that have open diplomatic ties with Israel, last Thursday, the Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani denounced any attempt by Israelis to storm or enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as illegal and an aggressive act against the Islamic holy site. He underlined Jordan’s determination to maintain the status quo at Al-Aqsa.

In August 2015, Israel imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the compound, which is under the administration of Jordan, sparking a fresh wave of tensions with Palestinians.

Temple Mount is a site of worship by Jews. According to an agreement signed between the Tel Aviv regime and the Jordanian government — which administers Al-Aqsa Mosque — after Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem al-Quds in 1967, visits to the compound by Israelis are permitted but non-Muslim worship is prohibited.

Settlers and Jewish worshippers normally come to the mosque between 07:30 (05:30 GMT) and 10:00 (08:00 GMT) and again after the Muslim prayer of duhr every day except Fridays and Saturdays.

Muslims consider trespasses by Israelis into the Al-Aqsa Mosque as part of a provocative Israeli campaign. They say the Tel Aviv regime seeks to change the demography of the holy city of al-Quds, where the mosque is located.

Over the past decades, Tel Aviv has been trying to change the demographic makeup of Jerusalem “Al-Quds” by constructing illegal settlements, destroying historical sites, and expelling the local Palestinian population.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Middle East War. It formally annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as its capital in a move never recognised by the international community.