JERUSALEM – The site of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, also known as the Temple Mount to Jews, became the focal point for a clash between Palestinian youths and Israeli police on Sunday.
Israeli police and the general director of the mosque had differing accounts of events, but both confirmed an incident occurred. Israeli police released a video showing rocks and other objects being thrown and officers responding.
Eyewitnesses told CNN that Palestinians threw rocks while the police fired tear gas and rubber bullets.
The compound is considered a holy site in both Islam and Judaism, and its administration reflects the difficult balance between the constituents in the region. While Jordan is the custodian, Israel is in control of security. Non-Muslims are allowed to visit the site in guided tours, but not to pray.
In commemoration of the Jewish holiday Tisha B’Av on Sunday, members of the Jewish far right, who have called for Jews to be allowed to pray at the site, visited the al-Aqsa complex. Palestinians often consider these police-escorted tours a provocation.
According to Israeli police, Palestinian youths barricaded themselves overnight in the mosque. Police said the youths began throwing stones and shooting fireworks toward officers, injuring four.
“In view of the harsh confrontation and escalation of the actions of the rioters and in order to prevent further injury to policemen … the force entered a few meters inside, managed to close the doors of the mosque with the rioters inside, [and] restored peace,” Israeli police said in a statement.
However, the general director of the mosque, Sheikh Omar Kisswani, maintained that Israeli police “raided” the al-Aqsa complex, firing stun grenades, rubber bullets, and tear gas. The director told CNN that officers injured over a dozen Palestinian worshipers, one of whom was severely beaten. – CNN