New clashes at Al-Aqsa mosque compound: AFP journalist

AFP , Monday 28 Sep 2015

An Israeli police fires at Palestinian protesters during clashes following a protest against the Israeli police raid on Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque on Tuesday, in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron September 18, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

New clashes broke out on Monday morning between Israeli police and Palestinians at Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound, an AFP journalist said, with further trouble feared in the week ahead as Jews celebrate the Sukkot holiday.

Israeli Police were deployed to the compound.

Sunday's clashes involved Palestinian protesters preparing to "defend" the mosque during the eight-day Jewish festival of Sukkot, stocking stones inside the shrine and planning to sleep in it.

Young masked Palestinians "threw stones and fireworks at police and border police forces", who responded with "riot dispersal means", police said of Sunday's clashes.

Calm returned to the compound later on Sunday morning and most police were withdrawn, an AFP journalist reported.

Visits by Jews were stopped on Sunday and age restrictions on Palestinian men entering the compound lifted for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, but a ban on under-50s was re-imposed as Sukkot started.

Palestinians have been alarmed by an increase in visits by Jews and fear rules governing the compound will be changed.

Jews are allowed to visit but not to pray to avoid provoking tensions.

But recent weeks have seen a series of Jewish holidays during which there has been an uptick in visits by Jews that have sparked repeated clashes. The same situation is feared over Sukkot or the Fest of Tabernacles.

In past raids, Israeli police have briefly entered the mosque to close the door on stone-throwing rioters inside and restore calm to the compound.

This month over the Jewish New Year holiday, or Rosh Hashanah, police raided the mosque's compound to stop what they said were plans by Palestinian youths to disrupt visits to the site.

Clashes occurred over three consecutive days between rioters and police, provoking international calls for calm at the highly sensitive site.

Israeli violations at the site are a major source of anger for Palestinians.

Jewish settlers and Israeli politicians have recently stormed Al-Aqsa mosque and clashed with Palestinians on a regular basis.

Muslims consider Al-Aqsa mosque the world's third holiest site.

Israelis refer to the area that encompasses Al-Aqsa mosque as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 war. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as its capital – a declaration not recognised by the international community.

* The story was edited by Ahram online. 

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