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6 detained in Al-Aqsa clashes as Passover tensions mount

April 17, 2014 5:31 P.M. (Updated: April 19, 2014 9:21 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli police said six Palestinian men were detained on suspicion of hurling rocks inside the Al-Aqsa compound on Thursday, amid mounting tensions as Jewish groups attempt to hold Passover rituals in the religious compound.

Groups of right-wing Jews were prevented from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by Palestinian worshipers for the second consecutive day on Thursday.

Groups of Palestinian Muslim youth have remained on watch around the clock in the flashpoint Islamic compound as Jewish groups have attempted to rally there and re-enact biblical scenes from the ongoing Passover holiday, most recently when five were detained on suspicion of bringing a goat to slaughter.

To avoid confrontations inside the compound, Israeli police shut down the Moroccan Gate on Thursday and denied the right-wing Jewish groups access to the compound.

Israeli officers stationed at all gates leading to the compound imposed also strict regulations on entry of Palestinians into the compound.

Visitors, meanwhile, had to leave their identity cards with Israeli officers at the gates before they were allowed in.

Separately, Israeli police officers stopped four Jewish women as they tried to access the compound on Wednesday evening through the Cotton Merchants' Gate. The women tried to break the locks before officers intervened and dispersed them.

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 Jewish temple and slaughter their Passover sacrifices inside.

Jewish fringe groups have vowed to rebuild a temple on the site, but Israeli political and religious authorities have repeatedly dismissed the idea.

Because of the sensitive nature of the Al-Aqsa compound, Israel maintains a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls it to not allow non-Muslim prayers in the area. Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, leading to tension with Palestinian worshipers.

The compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque and is the third holiest site in Islam.

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.
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