Israeli police and Palestinians clash in Jerusalem

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Nine people suffered minor injuries after violence erupted on Sunday near a disputed site that is sacred to Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem, Israel.

Al-Aqsa Mosque in 2007
Image: David Shankbone.

Israeli police, including paramilitary and mounted units, stormed into a crowd to disperse about 150 Palestinians who were throwing stones and bottles in Jerusalem's Old City. The clash took place near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the site Jews call the Temple Mount. It is the holiest place in Judaism, and third holiest in Islam.

The violence erupted after police shut down the mosque compound in an attempt to avoid a repeat of a similar riot a week ago. But Palestinians angry over the closure clashed with police.

Adding to the tension were rumors that Jewish militants would try to pray on the Temple Mount to mark the week-long holiday of Sukkot-the Feast of Tabernacles.

A police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, said to the Agence France-Presse news agency that "we closed the access to the Temple Mount following incitations to violence."

Israeli police said that they would not tolerate any unrest in Jerusalem, especially when the city is packed with Jewish and Christian pilgrims observing the biblical feast.

Palestinian official Imir Hamad said that the events were extremely dangerous and proved that the "extremist Israeli government," as he put it, is trying to provoke the Palestinian people. His remarks were broadcast on Israel Radio.

The Mosque of Al Aksa is a focal point of the Middle East conflict. The Second Palestinian Uprising broke out there in the year 2000. And with peace talks at an impasse, some Palestinian officials are warning of a third uprising against Israel.