Israeli police have raided al-Aqsa mosque's compound, clashing with
Muslim worshippers and arresting Palestinian protesters.
Al Jazeera has learnt that the clashes erupted on Sunday after
Israeli police tried to enter the compound in occupied Jerusalem's
The site is known to
Jews as the Temple Mount and is revered by Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif
(the Noble Sanctuary), comprising al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the
At least 10 people were injured and
another 15 detained, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Jerusalem said.
Israeli police put the number of arrests at 12.
Early on Sunday, Israel police deployed extra troops after calls
for demonstrations around the holy site.
The Palestinian calls came amid rumours that rightwing Jewish
activists were planning to gather at al-Aqsa compound.
The rumours circulated after a fringe Israeli group, the
Organisation for the Defence of Human Rights on the Temple Mount,
called on Jews to gather at the mosque compound as well as the
adjacent Western Wall.
Palestinian officials said the Israeli police closed off the
compound to visitors, leaving hundreds of worshippers inside.
Jivara al-Budairi, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Jerusalem, said:
"Clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli police spread to the
Old City neighbourhoods of Bab Hutta, Bab al-Majlis and Aqabat al-Tkiye.
She said the injured could not be moved out of the compound because
of the Israeli police siege.
She said the violence in the Old City erupted after the Israeli
police fired tear gas and stun grenades at Palestinian students and
youths in the area.
The youths retaliated by throwing stones at the soldiers.
Columns of black smoke could be seen rising from areas close to the
mosque compound, our correspondent said.
It seems that Palestinian youths set ablaze tyres in areas where
Israeli police and army forces were heavily deployed, she said.
A large number of Palestinians began a march from the Old City
towards al-Aqsa mosque, she said.
The neighbourhood's merchants have, meanwhile, announced a
comprehensive strike and closed all shops, al-Budairi said.
Micky Rosenfeld, the Israeli police spokesman, said the raid and
arrests took place after Palestinian youths threw stones and a
petrol bomb at a police patrol near the mosque.
Shmuel Ben-Ruby, the Jerusalem police spokesman, admitted
that security forces used stun grenades to disperse the
He accused the protesters of pouring oil on the ground to make the
police forces slip, and of hurling a firebomb.
Ben-Ruby said police did not enter mosque itself.
But Kamal Khatib, a spokesman for the Israeli Arab Islamic Movement,
which has been at the forefront of recent al-Asa demonstrations,
blamed Israeli police for the clashes.
"The police always excuse their attacks by saying that the
worshippers threw stones," he told the AFP news agency.
"It is clear they just want to justify their crimes."
Khatib further accused the police of stopping buses filled with
Muslim worshippers in northern Israel in a bid to prevent them from
Describing the situation to Al Jazeera, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the
mufti of Jerusalem, said: "Israeli forces entered the compound from
the Maghareba and Silsila gates.
"The forces cordoned off the compound, preventing all Muslims from
entering the mosque.
"The situation is extremely serious, and I expect it to escalate.
"The Israelis have beaten the mosque's guards and staff, as well as
worshippers, including women.
"I was personally prevented from entering the mosque. They are
preventing us by force from reaching the mosque, where Sheikh Abdul
Azeem Salhab, head of the endowments council, several endowments
department staff and a number of worshippers are at present under
"We are besieged in al-Haram al-Sharif yard, while they are trapped
inside al-Aqsa mosque.
ďA large number of Israeli policemen and security officers are
deployed inside al-Haram al-Sharif. They have detained most of the
Palestinian worshippers who were inside the compound."
Tensions exploded into violence on September 27, when Palestinians
hurled rocks at a group of visitors whom they suspected of being
rightwing Jewish extremists.
Israel captured the compound from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East War
and it has since served as a symbol of the two sides' competing
claims to Jerusalem.
Day-to-day administration of the site remains in Muslim hands.
In September 2000, the second Palestinian uprising, or intifada,
erupted after Ariel Sharon, a rightwing politician who went on to
become Israel's prime minister, visited the site.