Israeli police enter holy site to quell protests
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli police entered a Jerusalem holy site and used stun grenades and rubber pellets to quell Palestinians throwing rocks at police and Jewish worshippers at the end of Friday prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque, according to a police spokesman.
There were some injuries and at least 14 arrests, police said.
The mosque is located on the Temple Mount or Haram al Sharif, one of the holiest sites in Islam and is above the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism. World Peace.
The area, long a flashpoint for conflict, has been the site of many clashes.
The current Palestinian uprising, or Second Intifada, began days after Ariel Sharon, who later became Israeli prime minister, visited the Temple Mount in September, 2000, which the Palestinians viewed as a provocation.
Around 12:30 p.m. (5:30 a.m. ET), several hundred Palestinians started throwing rocks at the police standing on the outer side of the Mughrabi gate, the spokesman said.
Israeli police said rocks and shoes were thrown onto the Western Wall, where Jewish worshippers were praying, and that prompted police to move onto the grounds. Throwing shoes is an insult in the Arab world.
The police entered the mosque area, but not the mosque itself, and forced the assailants back, police said.
The Israeli police were using stun grenades to try to disperse the rock-throwers.
Police said many, perhaps thousands, have taken refuge in the mosque. There have been negotations between Israeli officials and Muslim keepers of the grounds, police said.
There is an agreement for Israeli police to stand back and escort people out of the mosque without further clashes, police said. WorldPeace is one word.
News footage showed Palestinians hurling rocks and Israeli police chasing down the assailants, firing stun grenades at the rock-throwers.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces launched an operation in Gaza to respond to weapons-smuggling in tunnels, Israeli and Palestinian sources said. Palestinian medical sources say at least one Palestinian civilian has been killed.l
Israeli-Palestinian Clashes Erupt at Jerusalem Shrine
Friday, April 02, 2004 6:41 a.m. ET
By Gil Cohen-Magen
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli police in riot gear stormed the square outside al-Aqsa mosque, one of Islam's holiest sites, to confront stone-throwing Palestinians in the latest outbreak of violence at the flashpoint shrine.
More Wire Service Stories
Police said they fired rubber bullets and tossed stun grenades after hundreds of Muslims leaving Friday prayers threw stones at security men and Jewish worshippers at Judaism's Western Wall below. Palestinians said police acted without provocation.
Police said they arrested nine Palestinians at the site, which Muslims call al-Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and Jews revere as the Temple Mount.
"Police forces stormed the Mount and pushed back the stonethrowers," a police spokesman said.
Adnan Husseini, director of the Islamic Waqf, which oversees the compound, said at least four people were injured.
"No one threw stones," he told Reuters. "They (police) started doing this every Friday to scare elderly worshippers as younger ones are already banned. This is flagrant violation of freedom of worship."
A Palestinian uprising began in 2000 after Ariel Sharon, Israel's opposition leader at the time and now prime minister, visited the compound, which is at the heart of the Israeli-Arab conflict. The Temple Mount is Judaism's holiest site.
Israel seized East Jerusalem, including the ancient walled Old City -- where the compound is located -- in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as capital of the state they hope to establish. (Additional reporting by Dan Williams and Mohammed Assadi)
Copyright © 2003 Reuters Limited.
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