Vastavam web: Israeli police fired sound grenades to disperse Palestinians during confrontations on Sunday outside Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque where tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers gathered for the Eid al-Adha holiday, witnesses said. A Palestinian ambulance service said that at least 14 Palestinians were taken to hospitals for treatment. Israel’s Kan public radio said four police officers were injured.
Facing off with police in the packed compound outside Islam’s third-holiest site, Palestinians chanted “With our soul and blood we will redeem you, Aqsa”. Scuffles ensued and the crowd fled as the sound grenades exploded and smoke wafted through the compound, witnesses said.
Tensions had mounted at the flashpoint complex at the start of Eid al-Adha as the holiday overlapped this year with the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’Av, amid calls by Jewish nationalist and religious politicians for Jews to visit the holy compound. In a statement, police said they had deployed forces at the site in anticipation of disturbances and “dispersed rioters”. It put the number of Muslim worshippers at the site at some 60,000.
Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization, accused Israel of provoking religious and political tension. The compound is situated in a part of Jerusalem captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move that has not been recognised internationally.
After the confrontations died down, Jerusalem District Police Chief Doron Yedid said on Kan radio that he had lifted the ban. Jewish visitors then entered the area under heavy police guard and no serious violence was reported.