Clashes Erupt After Israel Closes Temple Mount

Clashes Erupt After Israel Closes Temple Mount

Defying Israeli police measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, particularly closing its gates for Muslim worshippers, prayers were held this afternoon outside the closed gates, said witnesses.

Palestinian media reports suggested members of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf - the custodians of the site - were involved in the confrontations with Israeli polics, in which at least two Palestinians were injured.

The hilltop compound, known as the Temple Mount to Jews and as Haram al-Sharif to Muslims, is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

An Israel Police statement said that "three suspects who hurled a molotov cocktail at a police post on the Temple Mount were detained", adding that "the police post was damaged".

The Temple Mount has always been a site of conflict for Israelis and Palestinians as it is of religious significance to Jews, Christians and Muslims. "Tampering with holy sites, especially al-Aqsa Mosque, is a direct call for violence".

Video spread online of scuffles between police and Palestinians before the site was cleared.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the "dangerous Israeli escalation" and warned of "serious repercussions".

His office said it has been in communication with a number of parties including Jordan, in an effort "to pressure the occupation's government to halt this risky escalation".

The U.N. Mideast envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, urged both sides to "respect the status quo" at the holy esplanade and exercise restraint "to avoid inflaming an already tense situation".

Last month, the Waqf reopened the site and Palestinian worshipers began to use it as a mosque, despite Israeli attempts to keep the area sealed.

Meanwhile Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called on "the whole world to react to Israel's brazen attacks on our scared land".

Israel closed the structure claiming it was used by a heritage organisation with ties to the Hamas militant group. Israel has barred several guards and high-ranking officials from the Waqf, the Jordanian religious authority that administers the site, from the compound and arrested dozens of Palestinians under suspicions of inciting violence at the site.

In recent weeks, Muslim worshippers have protested the closure of an area on the compound near the Gate of Mercy.

Palestinian worshippers have been entering the site despite an Israeli order that it should stay closed.

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