x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Israeli police storm Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque

Israeli police have entered Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site to arrest a number of Palestinian demonstrators.

An Israeli police officer watches as Palestinians clear the area after youths threw a petrol bomb during clashes with police in Jerusalem's Old City.
An Israeli police officer watches as Palestinians clear the area after youths threw a petrol bomb during clashes with police in Jerusalem's Old City.

Clashes erupted on Sunday between Israeli police and Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the latest violence to shake Jerusalem's flashpoint site holy to Muslims and Jews. Police said they entered the compound in the morning after Palestinian demonstrators threw stones at visitors to the holy site, known to Muslims as Al-Haram Al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Once inside, police themselves came under stone attack and had to wade through oil that Palestinians had spilled in an effort to make them slip and fall, said public radio. Firing stun grenades to break up the protests, the police left the site after less than an hour and closed access, said Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman. Twelve demonstrators were arrested, he added. Witnesses said that some 100 Palestinians remained inside the compound.

Police had deployed extra troops early on Sunday after calls for demonstrations around the holy site that has been the scene of clashes over the past several months. "We reinforced patrols in the Old City to avoid any disturbances after calls among Palestinians and Israeli Arabs to come demonstrate in so-called defence of the Temple Mount," Mr Rosenfeld said. The Palestinian calls for demonstrations came amid rumours that right wing Jewish activists were planning to gather at the compound, the site of the holiest place in Judaism and third-holiest in Islam, radio reported.

The incidents marked the latest violence to shake the holy site, where any perceived change in the status quo has often led to outbreaks of deadly clashes. Tensions over the compound also exploded into violence on September 27, when rocks were hurled at a group of visitors suspected of being right wing Jewish extremists. Police, who responded with stun grenades, said the group was made up of French tourists.

* AFP