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Clashes rock Aqsa compound

Nov. 5, 2014 10:38 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 7, 2014 9:49 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli police clashed with Palestinian worshipers inside Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Wednesday and right-wing Israeli Jews toured the holy place, witnesses told Ma'an.

Palestinian guards of the mosque said dozens of Israeli officers raided the compound, entering through the Moroccan and Chain Gates and firing stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets to disperse Muslim worshipers.

The guards said several youths suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation and were injured by rubber-coated bullets and shrapnel from stun grenades.

Witnesses added that two of the youths were badly injured -- one in the head and another in the eye.

A doctor and nurse were allowed to enter the compound an hour later.

Israeli forces raided the al-Qabali mosque, where Muslims conduct Friday prayers, and later closed the mosque with chains and steel barriers as right-wing Jews prepared to tour the compound, Azzam al-Khatib, the director of the Jerusalem department of religious endowment, told Ma'an.

Additionally, restrictions were imposed on Palestinian worshipers entering the compound. Men under 50 years old were banned from entering and women were forced to hand over their identity cards upon entering.

The clashes quickly spread into the alleys of the surrounding Old City, an AFP correspondent reported.

Near Lions' Gate, one of the seven entrances to the historic heart of East Jerusalem, Israeli police fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse a large crowd of Palestinians.

Dozens of children on their way to school were affected by the gas, the correspondent reported.

Israeli police confirmed the clashes.

"Dozens of masked protesters threw stones and firecrackers at security forces who then entered the Temple Mount and pushed the demonstrators back inside the mosque," the spokeswoman told AFP, using the Jewish term for the compound, which is revered by both faiths.

The clashes came amid continued tensions over right-wing Jewish demands to be able to pray inside the compound despite being off-limits in mainstream Judaism, in addition to the expansion of Israeli settlement building in Palestinian East Jerusalem.

AFP contributed to this report.
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