Clashes resume on Temple Mount as Hamas warns of escalation

Security forces enter al-Aqsa Mosque compound and use riot control measures to quell unrest; Haniyeh threatens escalation of violence if Israelis continue ascending the Temple Mount
i24NEWS, Elior Levy|
Clashes between Palestinian rioters and Israeli police on Jerusalem's Temple Mount resumed on Thursday morning as Hamas warned that Israeli presence at the flashpoint could escalate to a full-blown conflict.
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  • Security forces entered the al-Aqsa Mosque compound and used riot control measures, video footage showed.
    Rioters fire fireworks from the al-Aqsa Mosque at security forces
    (Video: Alcastel )
    The Israeli forces reportedly fired rubber bullets and tear gas while the rioters hurled fireworks and threw stones at them.
    Video showed security forces attempting to confine the rioters inside the mosque.
    "As in recent days, this morning at the end of the Fajr prayer, dozens of lawbreakers and masked men rioted and disturbed the order on the Temple Mount with severe violence," a Jerusalem Police spokeswoman said in a statement.
    "Early in the morning and later they entered the mosque, closed its doors and continued to disrupt the order with stone-throwing and fireworks and to desecrate the mosque, where they are fortifying themselves at this time."
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    איסמאעיל הנייה
    איסמאעיל הנייה
    Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh
    Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh threatened further escalation of violence if Israelis continue ascending the Temple Mount.
    "I tell Israel that if it thinks that the incursion of al-Aqsa will change its Islamic identity, it is delusional. What the settlers are doing in the mosque will push for conflict and confrontation on all levels. Just as we defeated the so-called 'flag march', so we will defeat the incursion policy. We are still at the beginning of the campaign," he said, referring to an Israeli ultranationalist rally in East Jerusalem stopped by police on Wednesday for fear of escalating tensions.
    Clashes between Arabs and Jews broke out on Wednesday in Jerusalem's Old City and its eastern section following the rally despite the police's refusal to approve the rally, citing security concerns.
    The Jerusalem police said that seven suspects from East Jerusalem were arrested on Wednesday night after Molotov cocktails were thrown out of the al-Aqsa Mosque. Police said that one of the Molotov cocktails fell on the carpet of the mosque, sparking a fire that was quickly extinguished.
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    כוחות המשטרה בעיר העתיקה, ירושלים
    כוחות המשטרה בעיר העתיקה, ירושלים
    Police in Jerusalem's Old City
    (Photo: Eli Mandelbaum)
    The violence on the Temple Mount threatens a wider regional conflict as a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip in southern Israel on Thursday night.
    In response, Israeli warplanes struck targets in the Palestinian coastal enclave, attacking a military post and tunnel system, according to the Israel Defense Forces, which later prompted terrorists to fire another rocket salvo.
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