Palestinian leaders have denounced new construction projects they say will further tighten Israel's grip on occupied East Jerusalem and its holy places, including the incendiary site of Al-Aqsa mosque. The most elaborate plan is for a cable car intended to bring thousands of visitors an hour to the Western Wall and its Jewish prayer plaza immediately below al-Haram al-Sharif, a compound containing Al-Aqsa and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock. The $56m project was unveiled at a meeting of the Israeli cabinet in tunnels below the al-Haram al-Sharif. It is the first time the cabinet has met in Jerusalem's Old City, which Israel annexed in violation of international law. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the meeting in the provocative location late last month to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Israel's illegal occupation of East Jerusalem.
A US delegation has flown to Israel amid rising tensions ahead of planned protests against the controversial move of the American embassy to Jerusalem and ralllies calling for the Palestinians' right of return to the homes from which they were expelled from in 1948. Several US officials, joined by President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband and senior adviser Jared Kushner, will attend the opening on Monday, which coincides with the 70th anniversary of Israel's founding. Trump announced last December that Washington formally recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would move its embassy there from Tel Aviv, breaking with decades of US policy. His decision, long-sought by Israel, sparked anger and protests throughout the occupied Palestinian territories and drew condemnation from world leaders. On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Trump's "bold decision" as the Israeli foreign ministry held a festive ceremony to welcome the US delegation, which also included 12 Congress members.
An eight-year-old Palestinian girl who was run over by an Israeli settler in the occupied West Bank was buried on Sunday. Aseel Abu Oun was killed a day earlier by a settler who drove his car near where she lived in the Foroush Beit Dajan village, in the Nablus district. She was leaving a supermarket around noon with a friend when she was struck. Haaretz, the Israeli daily newspaper, reported that police detained the driver of the vehicle for questioning. Police said they opened an investigation, Haaretz reported, but did not specify whether the settler had been released.
Hundreds of Israeli settlers have stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem to commemorate the historic destruction of Jewish temples, referred to in Israel as Tisha B'av. Palestinian sources said that at least 1,023 settlers entered the compound on Sunday under heavy police protection. The Al-Aqsa compound, which houses the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, represents the third holiest site in Islam, while in Judaism it is considered their most holy place. Yehuda Glick, a far-right Israeli Knesset member, who campaigns for Jewish access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, was seen in the compound. Firas al-Dibis, an official with Jerusalem's Jordan-run Religious Endowments Authority, told Anadolu News Agency that Israeli police stormed the compound before the settlers and carried out security sweeps and search.
The last couple of weeks have seen daily demonstrations and confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories. Tensions have risen in occupied East Jerusalem's Old City after Israel shut down al-Aqsa Mosque compound for the first time since 1969, after a deadly gun battle between Palestinian citizens of Israel and Israeli forces. The attack, which took place on July 14, ended in the deaths of two Israeli police officers and three Palestinian attackers. Israel subsequently closed the site for Friday prayers and reopened it the next Sunday with new measures of control, including metal detectors and additional cameras, at the compound's entrances. Palestinians have been refusing to enter the compound until Israel removes the new measures, which are being seen as the latest move by Israel to impose control and Judaise the city.