The disputed Temple Mount, or Al Aqsa, site is seeing new Israeli-Palestinian scuffles, after a special police operation Sunday resulted in fierce clashes. Stone-throwing resumed Monday, resulting in an Israeli policeman being injured and three Palestinians arrested.
On Monday morning, Israeli authorities tried to reopen the Temple Mount/Al Aqsa mosque site and ensure the safety of any visitors celebrating the Jewish New Year, as well as of tourists.
— AFP Photo Department (@AFPphoto) September 14, 2015
But more masked youths emerged, throwing stones, injuring one policeman. Three arrests were made as a result. “As the police entered the compound, masked youths fled inside the mosque and threw stones at the force,” police said in a statement Monday.
On Sunday, tear gas and stun grenades were used when Israeli police chased down masked Palestinian youths to the Al-Aqsa mosque and carried out a morning raid on the holy site. Fierce clashes involving various groups then resulted in the mosque grounds being closed.
Later on Sunday it became clear that the Israeli police and special units, acting on information that Shin Bet had earlier received, were on a special operation, chasing down masked Palestinian youths through East Jerusalem, who were believed to have explosives on them. The chase allegedly led to the Al-Aqsa mosque, which resulted in the fierce clashes, involving bloodshed.
Palestinian leader Mahmood Abbas has “strongly condemned the aggression…” by “troops and occupational police,” his office said in a statement.
Temple Mount frequently sees radical Palestinian worshipers trying to repel Jews who visit the holy site for prayers and religious celebrations on specially prescribed days.
Temple Mount is considered holy by both Muslims and Jews. Palestinians have accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of supporting claims by Jewish ultranationalists seeking access to the site.
The Palestinian Murabitat and the Murabitun “sentinel” groups, comprised of female and male Muslims, respectively, closely monitor Jews who are allowed, under police guard, to visit the holy site for five days of the week. The Israeli government accuses them of hurling abuse at Jewish worshipers and throwing rocks.
Israel considers the two groups the main cause of tension at the flashpoint site, and has outlawed them on “security” grounds.
East Jerusalem, where the Al Aqsa, or Temple Mount (as the Jews refer to it) site is located, was seized by Israel in 1967, during the Six-Day War. The international community has never recognized the site’s annexation by the Israelis.