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Israeli forces clash with worshipers in Aqsa compound, dozens hurt

April 16, 2014 9:53 A.M. (Updated: April 17, 2014 10:48 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Dozens of worshipers were hurt Wednesday morning in fierce clashes with Israeli forces who stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound via the Moroccan and Chain gates.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli soldiers and police officers broke into the compound and deployed in the southern quarter firing stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets at worshipers.

Director of al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Azam al-Kahtib told Ma’an that "about 1,000 Israeli officers stormed the compound." He highlighted that Israeli officers used live ammunition.

Special forces deployed at the main gates since dawn prayer, witnesses said, denying Palestinian worshipers entry to the compound.

Employees of the ministry of endowment and students who attend schools inside the compound were also denied entry. Only security guards were allowed in addition to men over 65 years old. Several people performed dawn prayer in the alleys near the gates.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that Palestinians threw "stones and firecrackers" at police when they opened the walled compound's gates.

Police responded with stun grenades, Rosenfeld said, and closed the complex to Jewish visitors after a small number had toured the site.

About 100 Muslim worshipers have decided to stay inside the compound day and night after right-wing Jewish organizations urged Jews to flock to the compound which they believe is the site of a former temple and slaughter their Passover sacrifices inside.

Witnesses told Ma'an that the young volunteers foiled plans to tour the compound.

On Monday, police arrested five Jews suspected of intending to sacrifice a goat at the Al-Aqsa mosque complex, in a bid to reenact an ancient Passover ritual.

Jewish fringe groups have vowed to build a third Temple, but Israeli political and religious authorities have repeatedly dismissed the idea.

Al-Aqsa is located in East Jerusalem, a part of the internationally recognized Palestinian territories that have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.

AFP contributed to this report
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