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Clashes break out at Aqsa compound on last day of Eid holiday

Sept. 27, 2015 10:26 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 27, 2015 10:22 P.M.)
Palestinian women demonstrate in front of the Dome of the Rock after clashes in the mosque compound, on September 27, 2015. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Clashes broke out in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound when Israeli forces stormed the holy site on Sunday morning, the last day of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, witnesses said.

Witnesses told Ma'an that special Israeli forces stormed the holy site via the Moroccan and Chain gatest, firing rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades at Palestinian worshipers.

Israeli police said that said Palestinians "threw stones and fireworks at police and border police forces," who responded with "riot dispersal means."

Calm returned to the mosque compound later in the morning and most police withdrew.

Visits by Jews were stopped through the day and age restrictions on Palestinian men entering the compound lifted for the Muslim holiday.

However, tensions remained high ahead of an eight-day Jewish festival, known as the Sukkut, which begins Sunday evening and is expected to lead to an increase in Jewish visitors to the Al-Aqsa compound.

Palestinian protesters on Sunday were reportedly preparing "to defend" the mosque compound during the festival, stocking stones inside the southern mosque and planning to sleep in it.

While Israeli police have prevented non-Muslims from entering the compound during the four-day Eid, which started Thursday, Israeli forces have been heavily deployed across the Old City surrounding the compound.

Recent weeks have seen severe restrictions on Palestinian worshipers wishing to enter the site, with Palestinians saying there is a newly established schedule in which Jews are allowed to tour the compound between 7 and 11 a.m., while Muslim entry is restricted.

From inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque, on September 27, 2015, Palestinians plan to remain there to protect it in case of clashes, as Muslims have been alarmed by an increase in visits by Jews and fear rules governing the compound will be changed. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

Senior Palestinian officials have expressed concerns that Israel is restricting access to the compound in a bid to establish daily Jewish prayer, despite an agreement forbidding non-Muslim worship at the site.

The speaker of the joint Arab bloc in the Israeli Knesset, Ayman Odeh, wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday that to "counter Israeli plots to divide Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews," Palestinian citizens of Israel should head to the mosque in masses over the coming days.

"Now there are crowds in the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and these crowds will grow larger tomorrow and the day after tomorrow in particular," Odeh wrote.

He said that the goal of the gathering was "to uproot the idea of dividing Al-Aqsa and its courtyards."

He added that struggle to "protect Al-Aqsa" continues along with the struggle to end occupation, "and the Palestinian people as a whole."

The third holiest site in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is also venerated as Judaism's most holy place as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.

Following Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has maintained an agreement with the Islamic trust that controls the Al-Aqsa compound not to allow non-Muslim prayer in the area.

Jewish prayer is allowed at the neighboring Western Wall, which is the last remnant of the Second Temple.

AFP contributed to this report.

Palestinians collecting stones inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque on September 27, 2015. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
Comments
Oscar / South Africa
Israel is maintaining the status quo. The remarks about Israel's intention to upset the status quo at Islamic holy places are utter nonsense. The status quo is being changed by those who bring pipe bombs and explosives into mosques.
27/09/2015 10:46
Colin Wright / USA
To Oscar ' The status quo is being changed by those who bring pipe bombs and explosives into mosques.' Got lotsa evidence that's happened at al Aqsa, Oscar buddy?
27/09/2015 16:28
Tobias / USA
-1- The Agreement Allows For Traditional Muslim Worship (prayer rugs, kneeling, etc.), and not the way Palestinians "worship" today, by
throwing stones, fireworks, and bombs at border police forces, and
-2- Soon Israel may not be able to prevent Jewish worship on the Mount either !!
27/09/2015 17:00
Joe Fattal / USA
What we have is someone is fighting to protect a standing Mosque and the other for a non-existent Temple. You don't have to be an expert on anything to see which one will prevail at the end, the one that is protecting the Mosque.
27/09/2015 18:34
ian / australia (1)
G-d. Could the elephant in the room be plainer? "Clashes" happen when Israeli soldiers storm the Aqsa ("firing rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades") to control "clashes". Palestinians respond by throwing rocks which requires "riot dispersal means" to "restore order". Jesus. Here's an idea: observe the status quo, obey the rules or KEEP OFF THE AQSA.
04/10/2015 02:02
ian / australia (2)
(contd.) ...which brings us to Oscar/South Africa who is the kind of poster who just makes s#$% up like "Israel is maintaining the status quo" (!) No Oscar, instituting Jewish prayer, permitting tours by groups with kippot, payot, tzitzit and machine guns, firing weapons and busting heads on the Haram is NOT "maintaining the status quo", it's attempting to take it over.
04/10/2015 02:03
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