Israeli police stoned at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa compound

AFP, Tuesday 21 Feb 2012

Palestinian stone throwers allegedly target extremist Jewish group entering Al-Aqsa Mosque compound with group of Christian tourists

Palestinian protesters hurled stones and shoes at police escorting Jewish and Christian visitors inside the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City on Tuesday, Israeli police said.

"An officer was slightly wounded and treated at the scene," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, adding that two Palestinians were arrested.

Police had earlier been put on high alert over fears that Jewish and Muslim groups were set to clash at the flashpoint site.

The alert was raised after various Muslim groups posted calls online urging people to head to the compound to "protect" it after a Jewish group of rightwing extremists said they were planning to visit, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.

Police were deployed around Al-Aqsa and throughout the Old City "following various calls on different Internet sites by terrorist groups calling on people to go protect the compound after calls from the extreme right to come today," Samri said in a statement.

An AFP correspondent at the scene said 15 vans of riot police were parked by the Dung Gate near the Mughrabi ramp, which runs from the Western Wall plaza up to the walled mosque compound.

On Sunday, police used tear gas to disperse Palestinians who were throwing stones at tourists and police inside the compound, and arrested 18 people.

Police said it was not clear why the disturbances broke out, but Palestinian witnesses told AFP the stonethrowers had been targeting religious Jews who entered the site among a group of Christian tourists.

A similar protest took place last week when a group of Jewish nationalist hardliners tried to visit the site.

The walled compound, which is known to Muslims as HaramAl-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), is home to the third holiest site in Islam.

The plaza is also venerated by Jews as the Temple Mount, the site where King Herod's temple once stood before it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

It is the holiest site in Judaism, but Jews are forbidden to worship there.

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