Clashes escalate at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque

Jerusalem, Sep 14 (IANS) Clashes between Muslims and Israeli police continued Monday at the al-Aqsa mosque complex in East Jerusalem for the second consecutive day.

Dozens of police raided the site, holy to both Muslims and Jews, to prevent Palestinian youths from attacking far-right Jews who visited the holy compound on the occasion of the Jewish New Year, Xinhua news agency reported.

“As the police entered the compound, masked youths fled inside the mosque and threw stones at the force,” a police spokesperson said in a statement, adding that nine protesters were arrested.

Wadi Hilweh, a Palestinian-run information centre in Jerusalem, reported that policemen entered the al-Aqsa Mosque itself, attacking worshipers and protesters with stun grenades and rubber- coated bullets.

There were conflicting reports about the number of injuries, with some reporting dozens of people wounded in the incident.

A similar raid took place on Sunday. A police spokeswoman said dozens of young Palestinian men were staying inside the al-Aqsa Mosque overnight in order to harass Jewish visitors.

She said the Palestinians stored stones, empty bottles and fireworks to prevent the police from closing the gate that leads to the mosque, and added that when the police came to close the gate, they threw stones at them.

Al-Aqsa is the third holiest site for Islam and is located in the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount site, which Jews revered as the place of their biblical temple.

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has condemned the incident.

Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said that Jerusalem’s holy sites are “a red line that cannot be bypassed,” PNA’s officials news agency WAFA reported.

“We will not stand silent in the face of these attacks,” he added.

Meanwhile, Israeli media reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will convene “an urgent meeting” with the defence and justice ministers to discuss stricter punishments for Palestinian stone-hurling youths.

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