JERUSALEM // Israeli police fired stun grenades on Sunday to disperse 150 Palestinians who hurled stones at Jewish worshipers visiting a sensitive religious site in the Old City before the start of the holiest day for Jews. Two policemen were lightly wounded, a spokesman said, and Palestinian medics said they evacuated a Palestinian man suffering from a head injury. Police restored calm and closed the complex after the incident.
The incident occurred before Yom Kippur in the complex known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as al Harm al Sharif (Noble Sanctuary). It houses al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock and overlooks the Western Wall, a Jewish prayer site. Israel captured the Temple Mount in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it with the rest of East Jerusalem, in a move not recognised internationally. Israeli police are on alert in mixed Arab-Jewish cities, including Jerusalem, fearing riots on Yom Kippur when many Jews fast and abstain from driving.
On the eve of Yom Kippur last year, Jewish youths in the Israeli town of Acre attacked an Arab man who drove into a mostly Jewish district disturbing the start of the 24-hour fasting day. Several homes and shops were damaged in ensuing riots. The Temple Mount is the most sacred site in Judaism. The gilded Dome of the Rock, is built over the spot where Jews and Christians believe Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Isaac to God before an angel stayed his hand.
In Muslim tradition, Prophet Mohammad ascended to heaven from the rock at the centre of what is now the Dome of the Rock. Al Haram al Sharif is the third holiest site for Muslims after Mecca and Medina in modern Saudi Arabia. * Reuters