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Israeli forces clash with worshipers at Al-Aqsa

Feb. 24, 2012 1:29 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 26, 2012 9:40 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces clashed with Palestinians in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Friday, exchanging a volley of tear gas and rocks.

Israeli troops entered the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Compound) after the Friday noon prayer, and fired tear and and sound grenades, causing confusion amongst the large crowds who worship at the holy site on Fridays, a Ma'an correspondent said.

Palestinian youth threw rocks at the forces, witnesses told Ma'an, adding that high security measures were imposed throughout Jerusalem.

Red Crescent sources told Ma’an that their crews were able to treat 35 worshipers after inhaling tear gas which the Israeli forces had tossed inside the mosque.

Four Palestinians were taken to Maqased hospital after being beaten.

The Israeli police representative for the Arab media, Luba Sumari, said hundreds of Palestinians threw stones toward the Israeli forces which led the forces to raid the Al-Aqsa yards.

In a statement, Sumari added that the Israeli forces used sound grenades only to disperse the stone throwers. Nine were detained in addition to another from Esawiah, Sumari said.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Ma’an: "This is a serious attack that intends to impose full Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa a prelude to the establishment of the supposed (Third) Temple."

Tensions at the sacred complex have been heightened after far-right Israeli politician Moshe Feiglin tried to make a publicized visit to the site two weeks ago, and leaflets were distributed around the city calling to remove "Israel's enemies" from the site.

Israeli forces detained three Palestinians at the religious compound on Tuesday when clashes broke out as two groups of Israelis toured the site. Two days earlier, police detained 21 Palestinians in the midst of confrontations at the site.

Police also blocked Feiglin from entering and briefly closed the holy compound last Sunday, saying they feared unrest after the extremist literature circulated the city.

The compound, containing the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, is the third holiest site in Islam and abuts the site where Jews believe the ancient Second Temple stood, attracting the far-right to pose the rebuilding of the Jewish site on the sanctuary.

In its weekly meeting on Tuesday, the PA cabinet slammed "continuous attempts by settlers and extremists to raid Al-Aqsa Mosque and conduct religious rituals on its campuses in a manner that provokes Muslim sentiments and creates a state of tension," saying it holds the Israeli government responsible.
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