Despite Israel temporarily suspending Jewish visitors to the site, the Palestinians consider it a provocative act of violence, the renewed violence occurred at the site which is sacred to Jews as well as Muslims. According to medics, more than twenty-six Palestinians were injured before the violence subsided hours later.
Al-Aqsa, the third holiest place in Islam, is located at Al-Aqsa. It is located on a sprawling esplanade and is considered the holiest site by Jews. This is because it is where the two Jewish temples were built in antiquity. It is at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian war and has often been the site of violence.
In recent years, the long-standing ban on Jews praying at the site was relaxed. This has led to fears among Palestinians about Israel's plans to seize the site or divide it. Palestinians accuse Israel, along with Jordan, the neighboring custodian, of violating long-standing agreements by allowing increasing numbers of Jews to visit it under police escort.
Israel insists it will not change its status quo, and blames Hamas for inciting violence. According to Israel, its security forces are working to eliminate rock-throwers to allow freedom of worship for Jews as well as Muslims.
Beginning Friday, visits by Jewish groups were stopped for the final 10 days of Ramadan (as they have been in past years).
Over the past week, Israeli police and Palestinians have clashed frequently at the site. This is at a time when tensions are high following a series of deadly attacks on Israel and raids on the occupied West Bank. Three rockets were fired from Gaza Strip, controlled by Islamic militant group Hamas, into Israel. Israel responded by launching air strikes.
This string of events raises fears about a repeat last year's violence and protests in Jerusalem, which eventually led to an 11-day war between Israel & Hamas as well as communal violence in Israel’s mixed cities.
Two Palestinian witnesses claim that Palestinian youths attacked police with stones at the gate leading to the compound. They spoke under oath because of security concerns. In full riot gear the police entered the compound and fired stun grenades and rubber bullets.
Israeli police claimed that Palestinians carrying Hamas flags had started stockpiling stones before dawn and were erecting crude fortifications. Police claimed that the Palestinians had waited until the early morning prayers were over before entering the compound after rock-throwing started.
On video footage, police fired at journalists with cameras while loudly identifying themselves to be members of the media. Police fired rubber bullets at least three times on Palestinian journalists.
Some elderly Palestinians tried to get the youths stopped throwing stones, but they were ignored by dozens of young masked men who hurled rocks and fireworks at police officers. The gate was where the clashes started, and a tree caught on fire. According to police, it was set off by fireworks by Palestinians.
Later in the morning, violence subsided after another group made up of dozens of Palestinians stated that they wanted to clear the area before the weekly prayers at midday. These prayers are attended regularly by thousands of Muslim worshippers. The stone-throwing was stopped by the police as they moved to the gate.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent medical service, at least 31 Palestinians were injured. 14 of them were taken to hospital. According to police, a policewoman was struck in the face with a rock. She was taken to the hospital for treatment.
Ramadan fell on the same week as the Jewish Passover and major Christian holidays. Tens of thousands of people of all three faiths flocked to the Old City following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.
The Old City of Jerusalem is located in east Jerusalem. It was captured by Israel along with Gaza and the West Bank in 1967 Mideast war. Israel annexed East Jerusalem in a move that was not recognized internationally. The entire city is considered its capital. Palestinians want an independent state in all three territory and consider east Jerusalem their capital.