Witnesses said that the first group of settlers toured the courtyard of the Dome of the Rock “in a provocative manner,” before touring the rest of the compound and exiting via the Chain Gate.
One of the settlers tried to “tear off his clothes inside the compound before security guards intervened and stopped him,” said an eyewitness, who told Ma’an he believed the act was part of religious ritual.
Israeli police officers, who entered the compound to protect the settlers, chased Palestinian worshipers including children and women.
Witnesses said the officers detained a woman near al-Ghawanma gate in addition to two men who were identified as Muhammad Abu Gharbiyya and Ribhi Abu al-Hummus. They were reportedly taken to an Israeli police station outside the Chain Gate.
Settlers also assaulted a group of Palestinian women outside the Chain Gate who were unable to access the compound after an Israeli court decision banned them from visiting the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
“A settler approached a group of women waiting outside the Chain Gate and verbally assaulted them before attacking them physically and throwing hot tea at us from a kettle he had. Another settler assaulted us, and fled the scene,” said one of the women.
An Israeli police spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
Witnesses emphasized that Israeli police officers were present when the settlers assaulted the women but they took no action against the assailants.
The Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque.
The third holiest site in Islam, it is also venerated as Judaism’s most holy place as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
Following Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has maintained an agreement with the Islamic trust that controls the Al-Aqsa compound not to allow non-Muslim prayer in the area. Jewish prayer is allowed at the neighboring Western Wall.
Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to Al-Aqsa, however, leading to tension with Palestinian worshipers.