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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from what you say here i understand that you do not see the arabs and the jews as equal and it hard for you to recognize that there are Jewish extremists as you cannot compare them.

your view of arabs as "well orginized "govermental" infrastructure who not only indocturnizes, identifty, trains and sends out these killers but supply them with the wepons they use. and do not see that from palestinian prespective IDF is "well orginized "govermental" infrastructure who not only indocturnizes, identifty, trains and sends out these killers but supply them with the wepons they use.

Are you trying to compare teh IDF to Hamas. Hamas by definition tries to kill and attack civillians, not the IDF. The IDF open investigations into death of civillian and regrets them, Hamas target and celebrates their deaths. I thought you were talking about a few fringe right wing extremist or terrorist like the Baruch Goldstein and Yigal Amir...

interesting you did not.
Dear Dan, is multi political social network. it has wide spectrum of opinions from Israelis who are pro-settelment to Palestinians who are pro-one-arab-state solution. we also have all the between ideas and other independed ideas about the conflict.

so in our conversation we must remember that we have different views that are relatively legitimate depend of who speaks.

So from the perspective of Palestinian (as Ehud Barak once said) IDF has no legitimacy and some people see the act of IDF as pure terrorism done by non-legitimate Zionist entity.

I agree with you that there is difference in the world view of Hamas and IDF, and I see IDF as better organized and see it as more legitimate way to use state power, but still I also recognize that IDF sometimes use more force that needed and practically kill much more Palestinians (including many innocent kids) then Israelis are killed by Hamas and other Palestinian extremists.

I am not here to protect the Hamas or IDF, and the issue of Israeli police raid Aqsa compound is about extremist from both sides less killers then Amir or Goldstein. extremist who are arab Israeli and Palestinians not necessarily support Hamas and also have extremist in Israeli Police and decision makers side of jewish activists who may wrong in their decision.
Actually the extremists who hold positions of power have killed far more people than suicide bombers have done, and committed untold war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well.

In the course of the recent Gaza onslaught, Israel killed about 1,400 civilians. Many of the attacks were timed so that they occurred during the busiest hours of the day, ensuring maximum terror and destruction. Previous to the Gaza onslaught, Israel dropped tremendous amounts of ordnance on Lebanon, targeting civilians with cluster bombs known to do special harm to children. More than 500,000 people were displaced from their homes during the terror bombings,
as well.

Israel has always targeted civilians, as is clear to anyone interested in the historical record.
This policy is called Purity of Arms.

Further, Israel's record of supporting mass murderers around the world -- Amin, Mobutu (about one million killed), Savimbi (about one million killed), the Shah, Suharto (about 250,000 or more killed) places the state far ahead of anything the Palestinians have ever been accused of.

The State of Israel proudly honors select pre-State Jewish terrorists with the LEHI medal.
Hi Myron,

I agree with your view that those actively fanning the flames on both sides are a small vocal minority and because that is all we see of the other side, the majority believe that these people speak for the other side.

Instead of waiting for our leaders and representatives to speak for the moderate majority, why don't we organize a group of Muslim and Jewish representatives to at least try to meet with the Waqf and the police. I am sure that someone like Eliyahu McClean would be interested from the jewish side. This is something that should be done when tensions are low- periodic dialogue meetings between two groups help enormously towards conflict prevention- and it is worth trying.

I am in Canada but if you need help finding organizations and people, I would be happy to help.
This would be effective if the representatives were people truly concerned and attached to the site as a Holy Site. Would Rabbi Aviner be open to this.

I know that Eliyahu has been in touch with Rabbi Menahem Fruman who would be a grand and natural candidate as he has had contact with Moslem leadership (including Hamas) over the years.

This is a great idea. I may have someone i can talk to.. There is Chaim here at Ipeace who also has ongoing contact..Lets try to steer them in this direction.
Corey, There is a real need for dialogue and understanding..but beyond this there is the problem that Arab leadership and media seems to have an interest in showing how Israel is "conquering" the Al Aksa site..How it is another part of the "war crimes" of the Zionist entity..and thus fuel demonstrations overseas, etc.

I hope this doesn't mean that there won't be those interested in real dialogue. But i doubt its effects will be able to be made public.
I agree with you. My take on Palestinian/Arab worldview on Israel is that they are displacing their emotions- they are angry and humiliated at "losing", angry that they don't have basic freedoms and rights in the West Bank and Gaza, angry that they perceive the world as not siding with them, frustrated because they perceive Jews as colonizers, etc. and then displacing all those emotions of frustration, anger and hatred on every action they perceive to be against them without even questioning whether the situation is or isn't what they perceive it to be.

Regardless, we all seem to be waiting for a leader on either side to do something, say the right thing, somehow fix this mess. I think it is up to us to at least try. I don't actually believe it will have that much of a dent in the conflict overall but it is worth trying. How can it hurt? In a week's time we can either say 'we got a group of Muslims and Jews together to meet with the Waqf to help ease tensions' or 'we spent the week debating online with Americans'. It seems like all this energy we put into writing can be better used trying to connect people even if it doesn't work as well as we would want.
I think it is up to us to at least try.

we know that the center is moderate and that the public seek progress.
The idea you two put here is grate, we need to seek for ways to move it forward as this is a voice of importance.
Yes Corey and Miron.

The local people here can try to "organize a group of Muslim and Jewish representatives to at least try to meet with the Waqf and the police."

Other than just generating "hot air", members (and possibly others) could really just try to do that.
I tried picking up the glove..

i just spoke to (Rabbi and Kibbutz co -member) Hanan Porat on the phone, trying to get him involved. He is Gush Emunim..believes that Jews should not be chased off the Mount or humiliated..that uncontrolled digging that the Waqf does should stop, etc etc.. But he respects the view of Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook who was against Jews treading there.

This is touchy..Hanan, very he also respects Rav Froman and the religious and moral weight of his stance. Hanan's mix of nationalistic fervor, and spiritual and moral tendancies hasn't always led to constructive actions..although he has, at times, given expression to these moral concerns.

If these people would really get down to the knitty gritty between themselves..and with Moslem religious leadership..could they come to a joint statement? I don't know...i even doubt it. But try we must!

Interestingly, Hanan did not know that Rabbi Menahem Froman's son had a Jewish wedding ceremony on the Mount in 2004..and there was no ruckus. Is this a sign that with mutual respect the unbelievable can happen??
Can we invite a peace cafe for Jews about this issue?



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