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Israeli Police Use Stun Grenades and Tear Gas on Palestinians at Jerusalem Holy Site

A group of Palestinian protesters barricaded themselves inside Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound in an effort to disrupt visits from Jewish worshipers before Rosh Hashana.
September 13, 2015, 4:05pm
Photo by Faiz Abu Rmeleh/EPA

Israeli police used stun grenades and tear gas to clear out a group of Palestinian protesters barricaded inside Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound — a holy site revered by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount — on the eve of the Jewish new year.

Police said the protesters wanted to disrupt visits from Jewish worshipers and foreign tourists. Witnesses said the protesters were throwing rocks and flares at police from behind their barricades, according to Reuters.

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Video from the scene showed flash grenades being used, and smoke could also be seen rising from the roof of the mosque.

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The violence left 32 windows broken and a door shattered, a mosque official told Reuters. There were no serious injuries reported.

Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld posted a picture on Twitter that he described as showing police attempting to get through a barricade at the mosque.

Police units on Temple Mount area early morning to prevent riots by Arabs. No injuries. Regular visits continuing. — Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld)September 13, 2015

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement that he "strongly condemned the aggression of the Israeli storming of al-Aqsa this morning with troops and occupation police."

The clash at the holy site triggered protests and unrest in the surrounding area. Israeli police blocked off the entrance to allow Jewish visitors, while other Palestinians could be heard chanting as part of a demonstration.

Israeli police said the violence was an effort to disrupt visits to the temple before Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year that starts at sundown on Sunday.

Related: Flash Grenades Thrown as Police Clash with Protesters at al-Asqa Mosque

A similar incident occurred in July when Palestinians barricaded themselves in the mosque before the Tisha B'av holiday. While Jewish visitors are banned from praying at the site, some ultra-nationalists have been pushing to pray near the mosque close to the Western Wall, angering some Palestinian residents.

Follow Gillian Mohney on Twitter: @gillianmohney