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 Old City.

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 Rock.

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.

Spreading violence

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.

Conflicting accounts

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 demonstrators.

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 reaching Jerusalem.

'Cordoned off'

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 siege.

"We are besieged in al-Haram al-Sharif yard, while they are trapped inside al-Aqsa mosque.

“A 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."

Recent tensions

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.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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Neri I believe that this is a high price to pay for getting peace of mind on this spot of earth. For anyone who witnessed the Electronic Intifada wouldn't agree that this is a natural process to social and political improvements, such clashes will pull us back to the point of Zero, they will ruin what peacemakers from both sides try hard to build in years.

Besides the fact that in such situations the weak part will pay a higher price and suffer from harder consequences.
I agree with you Hiba. This is a path that lead to a very bad place.
Could you explain what you mean by the Electronic Intifada...(I don't think you are referring to a website by that name, right?)
No Joshua I refer to the second Intifada which broke on septemper of 2000. It is called Electronic Intifada because another form of new developed Weapons were used in it unlike the 1st one.
Electronic here not meaning Internet/Media..but electronically controlled missiles, bombs, etc? (I am not trying to be facetious, the term electronic seems a bit sterile to me, but is this what it means?)

I so fear that what is happening in Jerus. will lead to something quite dreadful for all..and as you say the weakest will suffer will any hope in the future.

Tonight i hear that some Rabbis are meeting about pushing for more Jewish presence on the Mount/Compound. I hope other Jewish leadership knows how respond to hold these guys back. They, like some Islamists, are taking such a blind and narrow view of what it means to "preserve the sanctity" of this Holy Place (Makom/Makam: is theis a proper use of the term Makam??)..So wittingly and unwittingly they fuel the flames further.
All the rabbis want is to pray on the mount i.e. have a jewish presence. Sounds fair.
This is a sensitive issue and i agree can not be totally disregarded. To deal with it first of all means taking into consideration the reality now and the vision for the future.

We could be fortunate that the Jewish view is that we long for the rebuilding of the Temple..and the way to bring it about is by leading a better life. It is an end that we work towards and not a tool to bring about our redemption. (The longing, developing consciousness and desire are valid tools...but using the Temple Site itself as a means, to Prove something to the world, etc etc seems to be sacrilegious.

Jerusalem, as an Ir Shalom, could be possible if our rabbis were more visionary and took reality (the raw material G~d has provided us with) as a basis too develop a true redemptive vision..rather that seeing it in the usual secular Nationalistic categories of sovereignty, etc.

Then, maybe there would be room for all to pray there..because none would feel threatened.
It is fair. But fair is far away from this kind of events. And one of most reasons is : Lack of negotiations. Even issue like this. Majority of different actions raise tension, because nothing really has agreed and negotiated.

Even if other side is doing something totally harmless, ping says nerves in other side, and there we go again.
I reply to this twice, from two different perpspectives.

It seems to me that the simple desire for a jew (even as an individual ) to pray close to the place of the temple makes sense..It is interesting to think that tourist carrying nonsense novels onto the site may be permitted, while a Jew carrying a book of psalms is not.

This entire compound includes a number of distinct places of various degrees of sanctity to a number of religions.

Is it too much to ask that the leaders of the religions be open enough to find times and places that woul allow various religious activities there?
"Is it too much to ask that the leaders of the religions be open enough to find times and places that woul allow various religious activities there?"

++ I have a strong trust that religious leaders would be ready for this, but, then there are those brilliant political leaders and nothing is no more as clear as we grass root peoples understand.
It all starts from the fact that moslems to not recognise a jewish present on the mount.... They believe that Jews are not allowed to pray there. If the past 100 years taught us anything it is that arabs do not have the best record on allowing freedom of religion in the holy land. When Jordan captured the old city it burnt down most of the ancient synagogues.... Can we really expect these same leaders to allow the simplist of rights for Jews?

It is all start from Jewish extremists that digging and annoncing the building of the 3rd tample with what see as support of MK and governmant. this make Muslem extremists excuse to claim that there is a plan for that.

it is all start from people who say "it is all start" and blame the situation in one cause rooted in the other side.
some time we pay the price for other people decision and acts ... I am not sure we can do much about it as they act from a prespective that think that these clashes contribute for the good, i.e. their preception of the good as one side Evil one side choosen by G-d.

I think it is better to constentrate on the moderate constructive acts and work despite this phenomena of agression exist and do harm. The work is to create new relationships where there will be no feer that any of the sides will abuse the conditions to harm the other side, because we are all in one field of life and one future.

We cannot shift the people who create this clashes, we can find them right here in the forum try to convinceeducate the other side that he/she is wrong (... and support Evil) instead of seeking constructive acts (as peacful trip to Haifa ....).

our reality is more clm and normal then what we see on the media, and what exptremists express here in forums.



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