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Violence Rages for Third Consecutive Day at Jerusalem Holy Site

Dozens of people have been injured in three days of violence between Israeli security forces and stone-throwing Palestinians at the al-Aqsa Mosque.
September 15, 2015, 11:29pm
Photo via EPA

Israeli security forces armed with tear gas and stun grenades clashed with stone-throwing Palestinians for the third consecutive day at a contested Jerusalem holy site.

The clashes started Sunday shortly after Israeli security forces raided the complex outside the al-Aqsa Mosque in advance of the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashana. An Israeli police spokesman said authorities were trying to secure the site for Jewish worshipers, and to "prevent riots by Arabs."

Jewish nationalists have been pushing the Israeli government to allow Jewish prayer on the compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and considered the holiest site in Judaism. The al-Aqsa mosque, revered by Muslims as one of the three holiest sites in Islam, also sits atop the site.

In 2000, a visit to the Temple Mount by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sparked a massive Palestinian uprising, also known as the Second Intifada, which lasted five years and left thousands dead. Since then, violence has flared up there regularly, most recently in July.

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The latest clashes had left 26 Palestinians injured by Tuesday, according to Palestinian first responders, and five Israeli officers lightly wounded. An Israeli police spokesman said two Palestinians were arrested.

The international community was quick to condemn the violence. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said it was critical for all sides to "exercise restraint," and "refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric."

Despite international calls for restraint, Israeli and Palestinian leaders responded with increasingly hostile rhetoric.

A prominent Palestinian politician and member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Hanan Ashwari, called on the Muslim and Arab community "to intervene immediately before Israel succeeds in launching a global holy war," reported the Palestinian News Network.

And the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying Israel would "use any means to maintain the status quo and the rule of law on the Temple Mount."

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Jordan's King Abdullah, calling Israel's response "provocative," warned that it might imperil the peace treaty between the countries that has been in place since 1994, state media reported on Tuesday.

"If this continues to happen ... Jordan will have no choice but to take action," he said.

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