Palestinians clash with Israeli police at Jerusalem holy site
JERUSALEM — Israeli police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades toward rock-hurling Palestinian youths at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, the latest outbreak of violence at a site revered by Muslims and Jews alike.
At least 42 Palestinians were injured in the early morning clashes at Islam’s third-holiest site, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
Israeli police said they intervened when hundreds of people began hurling rocks and fireworks, including in the direction of the Western Wall, where Jewish worshippers gather.
“We will continue to act decisively against rioters and outlaws for public safety and security,” the police said in a statement.
There were almost daily confrontations at the mosque this month when Ramadan overlapped with the Jewish celebration of Passover, which brought hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Jews to the heavily policed site in the old city.
However, the violence had abated this week following the end of Passover and after Israel halted Jewish visits to the huge esplanade which is home to the gilded 7th-century Dome of the Rock and the 8th-century Al-Aqsa mosque.
The compound is Judaism’s holiest site and the vestige of two ancient Jewish temples.
Ramadan ends next week and the final Friday of the fasting month often sees especially large crowds gather at Al-Aqsa.
Israeli officials have blamed tensions this month on Islamist groups, including Hamas, which rules the Palestinian enclave Gaza, saying they have encouraged youths to stage riots aimed at stirring anger in the Muslim world against Israel.
Palestinians accused Israel of not doing enough to enforce a long-standing ban on Jewish prayer on the esplanade. Israel rejects this accusation.
Al-Aqsa compound sits atop the Old City plateau of East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move that has not won international recognition. Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a state they seek to establish in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
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