Jerusalem: The Israeli occupation forces on Sunday morning stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque through the gates of al-Magharebia, al-Silsilah (the gate of Chain) and Al-hatah, and assaulted the worshippers stationed inside the Mosque, triggering the eruption of clashes inside the Mosque.
The occupation troops stormed al-Qibli mosque and assaulted the guards and servants of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Palestinian News Agency WAFA reported.
The Israeli forces since early morning imposed tight restrictions on the entry of worshipers into Al-Aqsa Mosque, preventing men under the age of fifty years from entering the mosque for dawn prayers.
After seven o'clock, and in coincidence with their storming Al-Aqsa Mosque, the occupation forces prevented all men and women worshipers of all ages from accessing the Mosque.
The occupation forces erected iron roadblocks and barricades at several entrances leading to the Old City and Al-Aqsa Mosque yards. The area surrounding the Old City was overshadowed by tense atmosphere following the storming of Al-Aqsa by the occupation forces and assaults on dozens of worshippers inside the Mosque.
In a statement, Israeli police said that they stormed the mosque to root out what they said were Palestinian protesters suspected of stockpiling fireworks and petrol bombs in preparation for a riot.
"Masked rioters fled into the mosque and started to throw stones and blocks at police from inside Al-Aqsa Mosque. They threw fireworks directly at police," a statement said, adding that a number of police were wounded.
The Palestinian news agency meanwhile said Jewish settlers had assaulted a Palestinian child near one of the gates leading to Al-Aqsa Mosque on Saturday, prompting a group of Palestinians to intervene before the police dispersed them.
Al-Aqsa, known to Jews as Temple Mount, is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam, and is a frequent flashpoint for demonstrations and clashes.
Jews are allowed to enter the compound, but are forbidden from praying there for fear of triggering tensions with Muslim worshippers.
Israeli police were on high alert ahead of the Tisha B'Av, an annual fast day in Judaism which commemorates the anniversary of a number of disasters in Jewish history.
The Times of Israel newspaper reported that tensions were high between the Muslim and Jewish communities after a video emerged over the weekend of a Jewish woman insulting Prophet Muhammad.