Palestinians, Israeli police clash at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa compound
At least ten Palestinians and three Israeli policemen were injured Wednesday in clashes in the historic eastern quarter of Jerusalem, eyewitnesses and an Israeli official said.
According to eyewitnesses, at least ten Palestinians sustained injuries during confrontations with Israeli police in several areas of Jerusalem's Old City.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said three officers had been injured by Palestinian stone-throwers, adding that four Palestinian suspects had been arrested at the scene.
The violence broke out as dozens of Palestinians gathered to protest Israeli police restrictions on worshippers seeking to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque, with men under 50 being barred from entering the complex.
In response, Palestinians – both inside and outside the mosque compound – began chanting against the Israeli occupation. Israeli forces attacked protesting Palestinians with batons, witnesses said.
Earlier in the day, a group of Jewish settlers backed by Israeli police stormed the mosque compound.
The clashes came on the last day of Sukkot, a week-long Jewish pilgrimage festival during which several Jewish groups had called for storming the Al-Aqsa compound.
Palestinian groups, too, called on Muslims to converge on the site.
The site in Jerusalem's walled Old City has seen repeated disturbances over the years over what Palestinians say are fears of an Israeli threat to the site, which Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary.
A video clip shared via social media shows clashes at Al-Aqsa this past Sunday.
In recent months, groups of Jewish settlers – sometimes accompanied by Israeli security forces – have forced their way in to the holy site accusing Palestinians of using the location to plan riots.
For Muslims, the Al-Aqsa Mosque represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, who refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," say it was the site of two prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.
In September 2000, a visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by late Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the "Second Intifada," a popular uprising against what they claim to be an Israeli occupation.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank 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.
Palestinians continue to demand the establishment of a sovereign state in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with East Jerusalem – currently occupied by Israel – as its capital.