Gaza Post- Agencies//
Clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli police on Sunday after ultra-religious Jews were allowed to visit the Haram Al Sharif compound in Jerusalem’s Old City for the first time in three decades.
Hundreds of Jews were celebrating Jerusalem Day, which marks Israel’s victory in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and its capture of East Jerusalem, which it then occupied and later annexed in a move not recognized by the international community. They were led by far-right rabbi Yehuda Glick.
Palestinians threw stones and chairs at police inside the compound that hosts the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam. Jews revere the site as the holiest in Judaism but cannot pray at the site. A Jordanian-Palestinian waqf, or Islamic trust, maintains control of the site.
The closest Jews can pray to the flashpoint site is at the Western Wall, one of the remaining walls of what is believed to be a revered Jewish temple. They are allowed to visit the site on occasion during limited hours, but take a different route through the compound. They are banned from showing any religious symbols.
Such a decision, taken by Israeli authorities, is rare and Sunday’s tour for religious Jews under the protection of Israeli police is the first in three decades.
Palestinian news agency Wafa said that several Muslim worshippers were injured by Israeli police after they responded to “Jewish fanatics performing a provocative tour of the holy Al Aqsa Mosque”. It said that “hardcore Jewish organizations” were calling on supporters to organize provocative visits to the flashpoint compound.
The compound is routinely closed to non-Muslims in the last days of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan because of the sizeable number of Muslim worshippers and the potential for conflict between the different groups at the sensitive site.
Non-Muslims have been let in on Jerusalem Day previously but only when it does not fall in the last days of Ramadan.
Israeli security forces were on heightened alert on Sunday, according to local media reports, because of the potential for an escalation after the controversial visit.
The unrest came before the most sensitive event of the day, when ultra-religious Jews will parade through Jerusalem in the afternoon.
The march is protected by Israeli police as local Palestinians usually rail against the provocative rally known as the Flag March, where marchers adorn themselves in Israel’s blue and white flag. Part of the march’s route takes in the Muslim Quarter.
Security forces make Muslim shopkeepers close up for the rally and order Muslim residents of the quarter to remain indoors.