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Israeli forces detain dozens of Palestinian youths for stone-throwing at Al-Aqsa

April 29, 2016 7:34 P.M. (Updated: April 30, 2016 5:32 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained dozens of Palestinians youths on Friday afternoon as they were exiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources.

Lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud told Ma’an that Israeli police detained between 30 to 40 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem as they were exiting the compound to interrogate them over suspicions that they were throwing stones at Israeli forces on the site.

Limited clashes erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinians at the Moroccan Gate as Palestinians protested the entry of some 1,000 Israeli Jews to the compound over the Jewish holiday of Passover that began Friday last week and will end on Saturday.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that Israeli forces asked Waqf (Islamic endowment) officials to contain the clashes without Israeli forces having to enter the compound.

She added the officials were successful and “calm was restored to the area.”

Witnesses said Israeli police detained the youths as they were exiting Al-Aqsa, searched them, and took their photos. Another group of Israeli forces evacuated the compound of the remaining Palestinian youths and detained some of them as well.

Al-Samri said that in addition to the 30 detained, eight suspects were formally arrested Friday for suspected involvement in the stone-throwing. All were taken to the al-Qashla police station in the Old City.

The detentions come after seven elderly Palestinians from Jerusalem were issued indictments earlier on Friday by an Israeli court for alleged incitement and involvement with Murabitun, an Islamic group who frequently demonstrates at Al-Aqsa against what they see as increasing Israeli control over the holy compound.

The third holiest site in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is also venerated as Judaism’s most holy place, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.

Mainstream Jewish law forbids present-day entry to the Temple Mount; however, right-wing Israelis gaining ground in the current Israeli government have stoked fears in Palestinians since calling for the destruction of the mosque to make room for a Third Temple.

Tensions around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound contributed to the recent escalation of violence after right-wing Israelis made frequent visits to the site during a succession of Jewish holidays last fall.

Tensions have increased at the site yet again as right-wingers tour the site for the Passover holiday this week.

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