Friday prayers at Jerusalem's Temple Mount turned into a scene of violent riots as protesters hurled stones at security forces who in turn broke into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Police dispersed the protesters using stun grenades. Eleven officers were lightly wounded by stones and treated at the scene. Ten rioters were arrested.
Left-wing activists said that about 15 Palestinians were lightly hurt by the crowd-control measures used by security forces.
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Hundreds of Muslim worshippers at the Mughrabi Gate hurled stones at police and Border Guard forces who raided the compound to evacuate them. Dozens initially refused to leave the mosque but later cleared out on their own accord. Police say further arrests are expected.
Following the Temple Mounts riot, similar unrest was recorded in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, Isawiya and Ras al-Amoud, as well as near the Qalandiya checkpoint.
Security forces in each of the locations suffered stoning and the hurling of Molotov cocktails. The forces responded using crowd-control measures.
Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Hussein of the al-Aqsa mosque said: "We demand that no settlers, radicals or soldiers enter the mosque to avoid friction." He claimed that the Israeli government was responsible for the situation and will "bear the consequences."
Officers dispersing rioters (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Jerusalem District chief Nisso Shaham told reporters that the riots broke out after a right-wing activist posted online ads calling to "cleanse the Arabs from the al-Aqsa Mosque." He said Friday's events were the climax of riots in the past two weeks.
Shaham was referring to an ad announcing a future Temple Mount visit by Moshe Feiglin and his supporters. Fearing riots police closed the area to Jewish visitors.
Wounded officer cleared from area (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
On Thursday, Jerusalem Police declared a heightened state of alert at the Old City due to mounting tensions over calls by right-wing elements and members of the Temple Mount Faithful group to visit the site.
"This time it was decided not to restrict entry to the Temple Mount so as not to harm the freedom of religion," Shaham said.
Several cases of stone throwing were recorded in the Old City in the past week. The first incident saw police arrest 18 protesters suspected of rioting after hurling chairs at security forces. Several days later, an officer was injured when Arabs hurled stones at him. Police arrested three suspects.
Also on Friday, some 400 Palestinians and Israelis staged a march in the West Bank city of Hebron, marking the 18th anniversary of the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre.
The 1994 shooting saw a lone gunman, far-right Kach movement member Baruch Goldstein, open fire on Muslims praying inside the Ibrahim Mosque. Twenty-nine worshippers were killed and 125 were wounded.
No unusual incidents were noted during the march.
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