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Clashes erupt at Aqsa after extremist attempts to raise Israeli flag

Aug. 4, 2015 10:46 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 4, 2015 7:31 P.M.)
(Islamic Endowment)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Clashes broke out between Palestinian worshipers and and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Tuesday after an Israeli extremist attempted to raise the Israeli flag over the holy site, witnesses said.

Witnesses said that Palestinian worshipers asked Israeli police to stop the extremist but they were ignored.

Palestinian worshipers and compound security guards then stopped the extremist themselves and tore up the flag, witnesses said.

They added that the Israeli extremist assaulted the worshipers with a sharp implement, injuring two Palestinians identified as Muammad Badran and Suliman abu-Mayyala.

During subsequent clashes, Israeli police reportedly assaulted worshipers near the Chain Gate and detained Radwan Amr, Fadi Bakir, Raed Zughaier, Husam Sedir, and Majdi Abbasi.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound has seen rising tensions in recent days, with Jewish organizations seeking to celebrate unconfirmed reports that Israel is negotiating the reopening of the compound to non-Muslim worship.

At the end of June, International Crisis Group reported discussions between Israel and the Islamic Endowment that controls the mosque compound on allowing non-Muslim worship at the site, although the move has not yet been confirmed.

On Sunday, right-wing Jewish organizations were reported to have called for a "return to the Temple Mount," urging participants to wear their Israeli army uniforms as they stormed the holy site.

Violent clashes the week before saw Israeli forces enter the mosque itself, causing the UN to issue a warning against "religious provocations" at the site.

Following Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has maintained an agreement with the Islamic Endowment not to allow non-Muslim prayer in the area.

Jewish prayer is allowed at the neighboring Western Wall, which is the last remnant of the Second Temple.

However, Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to Al-Aqsa, leading to anger among Muslim worshipers.
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