Israeli security forces and Palestinian worshippers clashed at a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site yesterday as overlapping Jewish and Muslim holidays led to tensions there, wounding dozens of Palestinians and four police.
Separately on the Gaza border, a Palestinian shot at Israeli soldiers, who returned fire and killed him in the third such incident in recent days, the army said.
Hamas’ health ministry confirmed the death of the
In Jerusalem, police fired sound grenades as Palestinian protests intensified at the highly sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, according to an AFP correspondent.
The Red Crescent reported 61 Palestinians wounded, 15 of whom were taken to hospitals.
Police said four officers were wounded as Palestinian protesters threw stones and other objects at security forces, who responded with what they called riot-dispersal means.
Seven people were arrested, police said.
Yesterday marked the start of Eid al-Adha holiday and thousands of Palestinians prayed at the Al-Aqsa mosque.
It coincided with the Jewish Tisha B’av holiday, which typically sees an increase in visits by Jewish religious nationalists to the holy site.
In a bid to ease tensions, police initially barred Jewish visits to the site yesterday but Muslim worshippers still feared they would be allowed in and
The clashes with police broke out afterwards.
After relative calm returned and following criticism from Israeli far-right politicians, police then opened the site to Jewish visits, sparking further clashes.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he decided in advance “in consultation with all the security bodies” to allow Jewish entry.
“This year, as every year, Jews will go up to the Temple Mount on Tisha B’av, even when it is a Muslim holiday,” he said in a WhatsApp video clip distributed to media.
“The question was not whether they would go up but how to manage it in the best way for public security and that is exactly what we did.”
“It’s our mosque, it’s our Eid,” said Assisa Abu Sneineh, 32, adding she was there when the clashes erupted.
“All of a sudden (security forces) arrived and began to hit and fire sound grenades.”
Some 1,300 Jews visited the site yesterday, according to the Muslim Waqf organisation, which administers the holy compound.
Jordan, the site’s custodian and one of only two Arab countries with a peace treaty with Israel, condemned Israel’s “continuous violations” there.
Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi called Israel’s response “an act of recklessness and aggression.”
Yehuda Glick, a former Israeli parliament member and a prominent campaigner for greater Jewish access to the site, accused Palestinian worshippers of provoking the clashes.
“When the Muslims were alone and they told them the Jews were not coming, they celebrated by doing riots,” he said.
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