Tensions rose in Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday as numerous Jewish settlers, escorted by Israeli police, entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. This action coincided with heightened security measures implemented by Israeli forces in anticipation of potential sacrificial rituals during Passover.

The incident unfolded with approximately 172 settlers accessing the mosque through the Mughariba Gate, where they reportedly engaged in religious rites. This follows calls from the Temple Movement, urging followers to stage large-scale incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Passover eve for an animal sacrifice.

Such actions by extremist groups have grown in recent years, with activities like trumpet-blowing, plant offerings, and prayers becoming increasingly common within the compound. These efforts are seen as attempts to establish a Jewish presence and ultimately rebuild a temple on the site.

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This year, the “Returning to the Temple Mount” group further escalated tensions by offering significant financial rewards for successfully carrying out the sacrifice within the Al-Aqsa compound.

Israeli authorities, however, remain vigilant. Police apprehended 13 settlers attempting to smuggle goats into the mosque, highlighting their commitment to maintaining order and preventing violations. Officials reiterated their stance of denying requests for such rituals, citing concerns about altering the status quo of the holy site and igniting regional unrest.

Similar incidents during Passover last year resulted in clashes between Jewish settlers and Muslim worshippers, underscoring the potential for violence. The recent actions by the “Returning to the Temple Mount” group and supportive politicians like Yitzhak Pindrus raise concerns about a repeat of such events.

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