Heavy clashes at flashpoint Jerusalem mosque compound

2014-11-05 13:39

Jerusalem - Israeli police clashed with stone-throwing Palestinians inside Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Wednesday after Jewish nationalists announced plans to visit the site despite weeks of soaring tensions.

The compound, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims, is one of the most sensitive sites in the Middle East.

It has been the scene of frequent confrontations in recent months, largely triggered by Palestinian fears that Israel was poised to allow Jewish prayer at the site.

The latest clashes erupted after a group of hardline Jewish nationalists said they were planning to visit the plaza a week after the attempted murder of one of their leaders by a Palestinian gunman.

"Dozens of masked protesters threw stones and firecrackers at security forces who then entered the Temple Mount and pushed the demonstrators inside the (Al-Aqsa) mosque," police spokesperson Luba Samri said, using the Israeli term for the compound.

"Extremely rare" move

In a bid to quell the disturbances, police entered "several metres" inside the Al-Aqsa mosque to remove blockages set up by the protesters in order to lock them inside, she said.

Although it was an "extremely rare" move, Samri said it was not the first time.

An AFP correspondent also reported seeing police on the roof of the mosque.

Police said the protesters had stayed in the mosque overnight to try to prevent the visit by Jewish hardliners, and had started hurling stones and firecrackers when police opened the entrance used by non-Muslims.

Police often lock protesters in the mosque when clashes erupt at the site.

Amin Abu Ghazali of the Palestinian Red Crescent told AFP that three people had been wounded by rubber bullets and another 15 people, who sustained light injuries, had been treated at the scene.

Police confirmed the arrest of one person - a guard employed by the Islamic Waqf - at the compound for threatening a police officer.

Clashes also spread into the alleys of the surrounding Old City, an AFP correspondent reported.

Israeli police fired tear gas and percussion grenades to disperse a large crowd of angry Palestinians. Dozens of children on their way to school were caught up in disturbances.

Police also arrested two youths and a minor for throwing stones.

Jewish visit goes ahead

After the protesters were locked inside, the compound was reopened to visitors with around 108 Israeli Jews entering alongside 200 foreign tourists, police said.

Jerusalem governor Adnan Husseini told AFP it was the first time police had penetrated the Al-Aqsa mosque.

"This is the first time they managed to get inside the mosque and reach the pulpit," he said.

"The situation is very difficult. We are standing outside the mosque [which is locked] while they are allowing tourists inside the compound. This is Israeli democracy."

He said that during the clashes, a stun bomb had hit the mosque's electrical points, sparking a small fire which was quickly put out by those inside.

Known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, the mosque compound, which is located at the south-eastern corner of the Old City, is considered the third holiest site within Islam, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

It is also the most sacred site within Judaism as it once housed the two Jewish Temples, with a handful of ultranationalist fringe groups hoping to one day see a third Temple built there.

Last week, Yehuda Glick, a key activist in such groups, was seriously wounded in a driveby shooting by a Palestinian gunman who was later shot dead himself by anti-terror police, sparking angry riots across annexed east Jerusalem.

Shortly after Glick was shot, Israel took the unprecedented step of shutting the mosque compound to all visitors for 24 hours in a bid to calm tensions on both sides, in a move which triggered furious criticism from the Palestinians and Jordan, which has custodial rights over Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.

  • Spellcheck_You're welcome - 2014-11-05 13:45

    There will never be peace in Jerusalem. One must eliminate the other in the end. I got my money on Israel.

      wez1 - 2014-11-05 16:13

      Myself as well- at the end good will always prevail over evil.

  • joannekc1 - 2014-11-05 16:38

    Four Blood Moons.

  • Zahir - 2014-11-05 16:46

    These palestinans need heavy weapons to fight the zionist occupier this is no a fair fight when israel army is supplied by usa

      Darren Marcus - 2014-11-05 17:05

      You twisted blinded by your faith fool !!! Israel should wipe out the scum before they teach more death to there children

      wez1 - 2014-11-05 17:27

      I agree with Darren. If the lesson is death, the teacher needs to be killed. Fight fire with fire.

      Darren Marcus - 2014-11-05 17:30

      Jp big difference !! If Israel had the same goal as hamas and its people Israel would and could kill them all in a heart beat ! They for some reason have a heart and choose not to !!

      Darren Marcus - 2014-11-05 17:57

      The reason is simple open the borders and Israel will be attacked daily (suicide bombings) if you treat me the way Israel are treated daily I would not care for you in any way ! Like I said if hamas had half a chance Israel would not be there !

      Darren Marcus - 2014-11-05 18:21

      I'm 29 years old you fool ! So no I would never agree to apartheid!! How ever I do believe apartheid is still alive and kicking in reverse ? Black people could not walk the streets at night ? Now white people are to scared to walk the streets at night ? Hamas and there people are evil and must live with there choices ?! No sympathy from me

      Darren Marcus - 2014-11-05 18:24

      And just by the way since you so disagree with what the whites did in the past ? Palistine stole the land from Israel first so they are the Dutchman and Israel would equal to the ANC no ?

      Darren Marcus - 2014-11-05 18:36

      Israel are there now !!! And have given Palestine a chance for peace and land !! And as always they have decided war and death is a better option ! So they must live with it !! If the people of Palestine and the rest of the Middle East chose peace ! There would be peace !

      joannekc1 - 2014-11-05 19:57

      What about Turkey who invaded the northern 1/3 of Cyprus in 1974. When are the invaders (Turkey) giving it back?!?!?!

      Mike Cambier - 2014-11-11 01:57

      they do have their weapons , its called human shields , and the muslim settler should get out of Israel and its Capitol Jerusalem......after all it has been Israels capitol for more than 3000 years , Islam did not even exist then , even Egypt do not accept the so called "palestinians ".

  • Tauriq Hercules - 2014-11-06 13:57

    This has nothing to do with all the comments above! Hamas and the gaza strip is far from al-aqsa mosque. So now what?

  • Donald Ceronio - 2014-11-06 15:30

    Islam cant answer these questions.

      Donald Ceronio - 2014-11-06 15:31

      1 When was the country of Palestine found and by whom. 2 What were its borders? 3 What was its capital? 4 What were its major cities? 5 Name at least one Palestinian leader before Arafat. 6 What was the language of the country of Palestine? 7 What was the prevalent religion of ancient Palestine? 8 What was the name of the currency?

      Donald Ceronio - 2014-11-06 15:37

      1 It was never found. The Brits called it Palestine due to "Ancient Palestine" 2 Had no borders 3 Had no capital. 4 None 5 No leader before Arafat 6 Hebrew 7 Jewish 8 Shekel

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