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Palestinians, Israeli police clash in Jerusalem

March 08, 2013|By Maher Abukhater
  • Israeli riot police clash with Palestinian demonstrators at Jerusalem's Al Aqsa Mosque compound following Friday prayers.
Israeli riot police clash with Palestinian demonstrators at Jerusalem's… (Ahmad Gharabli / AFP/Getty…)

JERUSALEM -- Palestinians and Israeli police clashed Friday following noon prayers at Al Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem in what some said was a protest over prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Police entered the walled compound where the mosque and the Dome of the Rock are situated after dozens of Palestinians threw rocks at them near one of the gates, a police spokesman said.

Officers fired stun grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets at the protesters as they pursued them inside the walled compound and as they clashed at the gates, witnesses said. Worshipers attending the Friday prayers, mainly elderly people, scrambled to avoid being hit by a stone or a stun grenade.

About 30 Palestinians and a few police officers were hurt in the clashes that went on for around an hour, officials said. All were reported to have sustained light injuries, except for a Palestinian man who was hit in the face by a grenade, according to Palestinian medics and the police spokesman. Police arrested a number of Palestinians.

Tension has been high around the compound after a right-wing Israeli lawmaker attempted last week to enter the Dome of the Rock, closed to non-Muslims, and a police officer kicked a stand holding a Koran. Muslim worshipers and Jewish militants brawled several times last week in the same area.

Jews also revere the compound as the location of their temples destroyed more than 2,000 years ago and refer to the area as Temple Mount.

Police and the Israeli army were on high alert in Jerusalem and the West Bank on Friday following calls for protests in support of the Palestinian prisoners, including two who have been on a long hunger strike demanding their release.

Palestinians clashed with Israeli soldiers Friday at the West Bank village of Aboud, northwest of Ramallah, following the burial of Muhammad Asfour, 22, who died in an Israeli hospital on Thursday, two weeks after he was critically injured in the head by a rubber bullet fired by Israeli soldiers.

Palestinians threw rocks at soldiers in the area following the burial, and soldiers responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

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