Israeli police and Palestinians clash for a third day at holy site in Jerusalem
For the third day in a row, Israeli police clashed Tuesday with Palestinian protesters at a disputed holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City, according to Palestinian officials and Israeli police.
A large police force in full riot gear entered the walled holy site known to Muslims as Haram al Sharif, location of the historic Al Aqsa mosque and golden Dome of the Rock, and clashed with Palestinians holed up inside.
Palestinians said police fired stun grenades at the protesters and attacked others with clubs, injuring several and causing damage to the Al Aqsa mosque building.
Israeli police said forces entered the compound to disperse Palestinian protesters who threw rocks at them.
Clashes were also reported outside the holy compound after police shut down all gates to the area and prevented Palestinian worshipers from entering.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said its medics treated more than 30 cases of people injured by beating or grenades, with few said to be serious.
Palestinians say Israel wants to allow Jews, who call the site Temple Mount and claim it as the location of their temples, to hold prayers inside the compound currently restricted to Muslims.
The clashes, which escalated after extremist Jewish groups called on followers to descend on the compound during the Jewish New Year holiday that ended Tuesday night, prompted strong criticism by Palestinians and others from around the world.
Nabil abu Rudaineh, spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, warned Tuesday that the Israeli acts in Jerusalem could have “serious consequences,” urging the world to put a stop “to this religious conflict set off by Israel and which could lead the region into endless wars.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late Tuesday vowed tougher measures to curb Palestinian violence, the Associated Press reported.
Netanyahu said Israel “will use all necessary measures to fight against those who throw stones, firebombs, pipe bombs and fireworks in order to attack civilians and police.”
The United States on Monday condemned what it called acts of violence in Jerusalem and called for restraint.
“The United States is deeply concerned by the increase in violence and escalating tensions surrounding the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
“We strongly condemn all acts of violence. It is absolutely critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric and preserve unchanged the historic status quo on the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount.”
Jordan, which administers the Muslim holy sites in East Jerusalem, including Haram al Sharif, sent a stern warning to Israel.
King Abdullah II said in a news conference Monday that what he described as Israeli provocations in Jerusalem would harm ties between the countries.
“Any more provocation in Jerusalem will affect the relationship between Jordan and Israel,” he said. “Jordan will not have a choice but to take actions.”
Abukhater is a special correspondent.
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