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Jordan recalls envoy to Israel after al-Aqsa clashes

Tensions continue to be high in Jeruslem after last week's closure of the compound
A member of the Israeli security forces aims tear gas in front of graffiti on Israel's controversial separation barrier (AFP)

Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel on Wednesday and moved to file a UN complaint after police clashed with stone-throwing Palestinians inside the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound, official media said.

Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur asked the foreign minister to "recall the Jordanian ambassador from Tel Aviv in protest at Israel's escalation on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound," the Petra news agency reported.

He also instructed him to lodge a complaint with the UN Security Council against "repeated attacks by Israel against Muslim holy sites," it said, adding that the procedure was under way.

Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims, is one of the most sensitive sites in the Middle East.

It has been the scene of frequent confrontations in recent months, largely triggered by Palestinian fears that Israel was poised to allow Jewish prayer at the site.

In another such scene early on Wednesday, Israeli settlers entered the compound following clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian worshippers inside the complex, a Palestinian official said.

"The Israeli police allowed the settlers to storm the compound and are now providing protection for their tour," Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, director-general of the Organization for Muslim Endowments and Al-Aqsa Affairs, a Palestinian NGO, told Anadolu Agency.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld tweeted that police forces dispersed "rioters, using stun grenades only".

"Dozens of masked protesters threw stones and firecrackers at security forces who then entered the Temple Mount and pushed the demonstrators back inside the mosque," police spokesperson Luba Samri said, using the Jewish term for the compound, which is revered by both faiths.

The clashes quickly spread into the alleys of the surrounding Old City, an AFP correspondent reported.

Near Lions' Gate, one of the seven entrances to the historic heart of annexed Arab east Jerusalem, Israeli police fired tear gas and percussion grenades to disperse a large crowd of angry Palestinians.

Dozens of children on their way to school were caught up in the police action, the correspondent reported.

The clashes come amid continued tensions over right-wing Jewish demands to be able to pray inside the compound and the expansion of Israeli settlement building in east Jerusalem.

For Muslims, al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times, and regard it as their holiest site.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.

In September 2000, a visit to the site by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the "Second Intifada," an uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians and Israelis were killed.

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