Police, Palestinians clash in Israel
JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
Israeli border policemen detain a Palestinian man outside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City on February 19, 2012. AFP PhotoClashes broke out between Israeli police and "hundreds" of Palestinian stone throwers at the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, a police spokeswoman said today.
"They threw stones towards the Maghrebi Gate and police went onto the plaza," spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP, referring to the only entrance to the compound which can be used by non-Muslims.
"There are now hundreds of people throwing stones." Police said they had used stun grenades against the demonstrators and that "dozens of people" had barricaded themselves inside the Al-Aqsa mosque.
The plaza, which is referred to by Muslims as Haram Al-Sharif and considered the third holiest site in Islam, is known to Jews as the Temple Mount and is revered as Judaism's most sacred site, making it one of the most sensitive places in the Middle East.
Witnesses told AFP police had also fired tear gas, forcing a number of women to run for cover inside the Dome of the Rock.
"We were praying when they started shooting tear gas towards us," 58-year-old Umm Mohammad told AFP by telephone from inside the Dome of the Rock.
"At first, they were shooting at the Al-Aqsa mosque but we hid in the Dome of the Rock, and now they have started firing tear gas and sound bombs towards the gates," she said.
The clashes followed nearly a week of unrest at the flashpoint compound.
On Sunday, police used tear gas to disperse Palestinians who were throwing stones inside the compound, arresting 18 people.
On Tuesday, protesters hurled stones and shoes at police escorting Jewish and Christian visitors inside the compound, leaving one police officer slightly wounded. Police arrested another two Palestinians.
And on Thursday, police arrested seven Palestinians for shouting insults at a group of Jews touring the site, fearing the confrontations would lead to further clashes.