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Clashes in Aqsa compound ahead of Jerusalem Day marches

May 28, 2014 10:19 A.M. (Updated: May 29, 2014 5:17 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Clashes broke out in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound early Wednesday between Palestinians and police, as thousands of right-wing Israelis prepared to march through the Old City to mark Jerusalem Day.

Locals told Ma'an that Israeli police officers fired stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets at Palestinians, and attacked some with pepper spray.

Four Palestinians were injured after being hit by rubber-coated bullets in the head, medics told Ma'an.

Dr. Ziad Surour, who works at a clinic inside the Al-Aqsa compound, told Ma'an that police fired at protesters after storming the area.

Meanwhile, police escorted Jewish groups through the compound as Muslim worshipers chanted "Allahu Akbar."

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld tweeted: "Disturbances on Temple Mount. Arabs throw stones at police units at mugrabim gate. Police enter area & disperse rioters. No injuries."

But the Israeli news site Ynet reported that a police officer had been lightly injured.

It said the Al-Aqsa compound had been closed to visitors as a result of the clashes.

The clashes came as AFP reported that Israeli prime minister Netanyahu said in a parliamentary session marking the day that he would never allow Jerusalem to be "divided," vowing: "47 years ago, Jerusalem was unified, and it will never be divided again."

Police were heavily deployed in the area as right-wing Israeli Jews prepared to march through the Old City to celebrate what they call the reunification of Jerusalem -- which Palestinians and the international community see as the capture and occupation of the eastern portion of the city during the 1967 war.

Earlier, locals said Palestinian men under 50 and all Palestinian women were barred from entering the mosque for dawn prayers. Men over 50 were required to leave their identity cards with police when they entered.
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