Police storm Temple Mount over feared attack on Jews
Palestine condemns Israel’s ‘aggression’ and ‘provocations’ at al-Aqsa mosque
Israeli police prevent Palestinian women from entering the compound which houses al-Aqsa mosque, known by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City, on the eve of the Jewish New Year. Photograph: Ammar Awad/Reuters
Israeli police stormed the flashpoint Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday, hours ahead of the start of the Jewish new year, claiming Muslim youths intended to attack Jewish worshippers at the nearby Western Wall.
According to the Israeli police’s version of events, police forces stormed the site early on Friday morning after dozens of Palestinian suspects barricaded themselves inside the compound with the aim of throwing rocks and fireworks at Jews praying before the start of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year.
Police said pipe bombs were found at the entrance to the al-Aqsa mosque and sappers were called to the scene to neutralise them.
A handful of Muslim youths were hurt during the clashes.
A statement from Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said he “strongly condemned the aggression of the Israeli storming of al-Aqsa with troops and occupation police”.
Al-Aqsa official Radwan Amr said 32 of the mosque’s windows were completely or partially destroyed, a door was shattered and the carpet burned in 12 places.
Jordan also criticised Israel, urging it to stop “provocations” on the Temple Mount and warning against attempts to change the “status quo” at the site.
Since Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel has enjoyed sovereignty over the site but Jews are only to visit, without praying. Jewish prayer is allowed at the adjacent Western Wall, the last remnant of the Second Temple.
Last week Israeli defence minister Moshe Ya’alon outlawed two Muslim organisations he claimed organised provocations against Jewish visitors to the compound.
Israel’s public security minister Gilad Erdan stressed Israel will not allow any violence at the sacred site. “It is unacceptable that Muslim rioters who barricaded themselves during the night on the Temple Mount can, at will, turn this holy site into a battlefield, including throwing stones, shooting fireworks directly at security forces, and even bringing explosive devices into the area of the mount.”
Israel has stepped up security for the two-day holiday.