UN official says Jerusalem situation worrying

Ramallah, Sep 14 (IANS) A senior UN official has expressed worries about the “incitement and violence” in Jerusalem, calling on both Palestinians and Israelis to “enforce restraint and respect of the sanctity of the area”.

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Middle East special coordinator, said political and religious leaders have responsibility to work against extremists and those who undermine the rule of law.

He urged all parties to reject incitement and violence, particularly during the upcoming period when Jewish and Islamic holidays coincide at the same time, Xinhua news agency reported.

Tens of Palestinian worshipers clashed with Israeli police forces on Sunday morning in Al-Aqsa mosque’s yard in the old city of East Jerusalem.

Palestinian sources said that clashes broke out after Israeli police attempted to force worshipers out of the mosque while intensifying military deployment in the yard.

Dozens of prayers suffered suffocation and injuries caused by rubber bullets during the hours-long clashes, in which fire was also ignited in another mosque adjacent to Al-Aqsa.

The Israeli prime minister’s office said that it is Israel’s “duty and right to take action against lawbreakers to allow freedom of worship in this holy place,” according to Israeli radio.

The Palestinian National Authority condemned the “raid on Al-Aqsa mosque and the attack against prayers,” describing holy sites as red lines that they will not allow to be crossed.

The Palestinians consider the east part of Jerusalem that houses Al-Aqsa mosque as the capital of their future state, while Israelis insist that Jerusalem is their “indivisible” capital.

The international community does not recognize Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem during the 1967 war.

The Al-Aqsa mosque is the third holiest site in Islam and the most holy site for Jews, who call it the Temple Mount and revere it as the site of their second temple, which was destroyed in 70 A.D.

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