Palestinians hurled stones and Israeli police fired rubber-coated bullets Friday morning at a major Jerusalem holy site that has seen several episodes of violence in recent weeks.
At dawn, Palestinians inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound began throwing stones and firecrackers at a heavily guarded gate leading to the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray. the police explained. The agents advanced towards the compound firing rubber bullets.
The violence ended an hour later after the intervention of other Palestinians present at the scene, who convinced both sides to withdraw.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said more than 40 people were injured, of whom 22 had to be treated in area hospitals. Israeli forces prevented emergency teams from accessing the compound during the clashes, the group added, noting that one of its doctors was beaten by agents.
Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in a statement reported the arrest of three people.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem is the third holiest site in Islam. The wide esplanade on which it is built is the holiest site for the Jews, who know it as the Temple Mount because it housed two Jewish temples in ancient times. The area is also at the center of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
In recent weeks, Israeli police and Palestinians have clashed there on several occasions. Israel accuses the Hamas insurgent group, which rules the Gaza Strip, of inciting the violence and says its forces must intervene to stop the stone-throwing.
Palestinians say the police presence at the compound, as well as regular visits by a growing number of nationalist and religious Jews, violate informal agreements that have governed the site for decades. Visits were suspended last week to coincide with the last 10 days of Ramadan, Islam’s holy month, which ends this weekend.
Tens of thousands of Muslims are expected to take part in the noon prayer, the most important of the week, on Friday. A few days ago, some 250,000 faithful celebrated Laylat al-Qadr, a night of intense prayer that marks the end of Ramadan, in the compound without reports of violence.