Israeli police enter Al-Aqsa compound, clash with Palestinians after Friday prayers

Ahram Online, AFP and Reuters, Friday 10 Jun 2011

Hamas claims provocation by settlers as the spark for clashes outside Islam's third holiest site

Israeli border police stand guard inside Jerusalem's Old City after Friday prayers, Friday, (AP).

Israeli police on Friday used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse Palestinian stone-throwers at a Jerusalem holy site after Muslim prayers and arrested three people, a police spokesman said.

Officers went to the plaza near Al-Aqsa Mosque where they broke up the melee by a few dozen stone-throwers but they did not enter the mosque, one of Islam's holiest shrines, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

He said police left the plaza after about 20 minutes as worshippers made their way home from prayers. No injuries were reported.

A spokesman for the Islamic authorities that run the mosque said one or two youths had been throwing stones, but the incident ended quickly.

While no mention was made in Western press of why the stone throwing started, Hamas’ statements following the entry of Israeli police of the al-Aqsa compound hint of a factor left out of the equation.

Hamas condemned provocative moves by the settlers, claiming they desecrate the compound with the grace of Israeli forces, said the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).

Hamas then called for a unified stand against Zionist plans to Judaise Jerusalem.

In its report on the incident, Lebanon’s al-Manar said that earlier this week, “Zionist settlers violated the holy mosque as they entered its compound on Tuesday, drank wine and smashed bottles on the floor.”

No straightforward account on the reasons behind the entry of Israelis to the mosque compound or the eruption of clashes was reported.

The sprawling mosque compound contains the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock and is the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina.

It is also the holiest site in Judaism because it was the location of the Second Temple, razed by the Romans in 70 AD.

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