Scores of Israeli settlers force their way into Al-Aqsa
Scores of Israeli settlers forced their way into the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on May 23, according to a Palestinian agency.
In a statement, the Jordan-run Islamic Waqf Department, which oversees the holy sites in Jerusalem, said 127 settlers entered the complex under police protection for the first time in three weeks.
According to eyewitnesses, Israeli police barred Palestinian youths from entering the site since dawn and imposed restrictions on the entry of worshippers into the complex.
Six people, including four mosque guards, were detained by Israeli police, the Islamic Waqf Department said.
The department earlier said that 50 Israeli settlers had stormed the site.
Meanwhile, the head of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism Party, Moshe Gafni, called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to keep the flashpoint compound closed to Jewish visitors, according to the KAN channel.
The U.N. Security Council on May 22 welcomed announcement of a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas and urged full adherence to the truce.
"The members of the Security Council welcomed the announcement of a ceasefire beginning 21 May and recognized the important role Egypt, other regional countries, the U.N., the Middle East Quartet and other international partners played in this regard. The Security Council called for the full adherence to the ceasefire.," the council said in a statement.
“The members of the Security Council mourned the loss of civilian lives resulting from the violence,” the statement said.
"The members of the Security Council stressed the immediate need for humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population, particularly in Gaza, and supported the Secretary General’s call for the international community to work with the United Nations on developing an integrated, robust package of support for a swift, sustainable reconstruction and recovery," it added.
The members of the U.N. Security Council stressed the urgency of the restoration of calm in full and reiterated the importance of achieving a comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace with secure and recognized borders.
IDF bombed Gaza’s high-rises to vent frustration: Israeli pilot
Israel’s bombardment of high-rise buildings in the Gaza Strip was a way to vent frustration caused by the failure to stop rocket fire from Gaza, an Israeli pilot revealed on Saturday.
Israeli Channel 12 interviewed a number of Israeli pilots who participated in bombing nine multi-story residential buildings, including the one that housed foreign media outlets in Gaza.
"I went on a mission to carry out airstrikes with a feeling that destroying the towers is a way to vent frustration over what is happening to us and over success of the groups in Gaza in kicking us,” one of the pilots said.
“We failed to stop the rocket fire and to harm the leadership of these groups, so we destroyed the towers,” he added.
According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Palestinian factions in Gaza fired around 4,000 rockets into Israel, causing the death of 12 people along with hundreds of injuries.
In the course of the Israeli offensive on Gaza, Israeli military destroyed nine multi-story buildings, claiming that they were being used by the Palestinian groups. Rights watchdogs have demanded an international probe into the Israeli claims.
Tension escalated across the Palestinian territories since last month over an Israeli court verdict to evict Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem in favor of settlement groups. The situation flared up after Israeli forces raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque and assaulted worshippers inside.
The tension spread to the Gaza Strip, with Israel launching airstrikes that killed at least 248 Palestinians, including 66 children and 39 women, and injured more than 1,900 others. Health authorities in the West Bank have separately confirmed 31 were killed in the occupied territory, totaling 279 across all Palestinian territories.
Twelve Israelis were also killed in Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. The fighting, the fiercest in years, came to a halt on May 21 under an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world's third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Since 2003, Israel has allowed settlers into the compound almost on a daily basis.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.