Clashes at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque hours ahead of Jewish New Year

Palestinian president condemns Israeli police ‘attack’, while Israeli officials say Muslim rioters turned holy site into a ‘battlefield’

Israeli security forces stand guard as Palestinians walk away from tear gas smoke during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at Al-Aqsa mosque …

By Inna Lazareva, Tel Aviv

Muslims clashed with Israeli police at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Sunday hours before the start of the Jewish New Year, the latest violence over access to the site sacred to both faiths.

Israeli police units stormed the area near the Al Aqsa mosque after they received information about plans to create disturbances on the compound as it opened for non-Muslim visitors, Micky Rosenfeld Jerusalem police spokesman told The Telegraph.

Upon storming the compound, the police units were pelted with rocks and stones by the Palestinians from “inside the al Aqsa mosque”, Mr Rosenfeld said.

Palestinians shout in front of Israeli security forces who block a road leading to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City (AFP)

Palestinians said the police used tear gas and stun grenades.

The police then closed the entrance to the mosque, locking the suspects inside. Several home-made pipe bombs were found near the entrance to the mosque which are now being examined by the police, Mr Rosenfeld said.

Last week, Moshe Yaalon, the defence minister, outlawed two Muslim groups from the compound on charges of incitement against Jewish visitors to the area.

Israeli border police inside al-Aqsa mosque complex as clashes with Palestinians break out, in Jerusalem’s Old City, Israel

The compound, located in the heart of the Old City, is the spiritual nucleus of the Middle East. Islam’s third holiest site – the Al Aqsa mosque – is here, and it is also the site of Mohammad’s night journey.

The compound also hosts the rock upon which Abraham is said to have been ready to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Jews call the compound Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site, as the compound is said to have been the site of two Jewish temples. Today, Jews worship at the site of the second temple’s peripheral Western Wall.

ARCHIVE PHOTO © Amir Cohen

Israeli forces storm courtyard of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem

But It is also a volatile tinderbox of political tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, where violent clashes often take place.

Israel captured the Old City from Jordan in the 1967 war, but today Jordan maintains administrative oversight of the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif compound. In order to avoid tensions, Israel has banned non-Muslims from praying at the compound – but some religious Jews and Israeli politicians violate the ban.

A masked Palestinian wearing a Hamas headband takes a burnt carpet out of Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City during clashes at the compound

Friday’s confrontation comes just hours ahead of the Jewish new year – Rosh Hashanah – which begins at sunset.

“There is heightened security all around the Old City ahead of the new year festival, and that will continue for the next 48 hours”, Mr Rosenfeld said.

source Daily Telegraph / RT

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