World News

Israel shuts Jerusalem mosque area after clashes

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli police barred access to Islam’s third holiest site on Sunday and fired tear gas toward Palestinian protesters hurling rocks and bottles near the Jerusalem compound, Palestinian and Israeli officials said.

Nine people were treated for minor injuries including tear gas inhalation in the violence that erupted in Jerusalem’s Old City, Palestinian medical officials said. Israel said two policemen were injured and five protesters were arrested.

Last week 30 people were injured in similar clashes near the compound, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, and Palestinians warned of a possible new uprising.

The last big uprising, or intifada, erupted after Israeli right-winger Ariel Sharon visited the site in September 2000 in what Palestinians saw as a deliberate provocation.

Before the latest trouble, Israeli security forces had beefed up security as Jews attended prayers for the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles holiday at the Western Wall adjoining the compound. The wall is a remnant of an ancient temple seen as Judaism’s holiest site.

Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian-appointed governor of Jerusalem, said Israeli police had denied entry to the compound where the al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock shrine are located, though some worshippers had been there overnight.

An Israeli police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, said the compound had been “shut to visitors” as a precaution to avoid violence. Israel eased these restrictions later on when the situation calmed down, Rosenfeld said.

Israel also detained Hatem Abdel Qader, a member of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party in Jerusalem, on suspicion he was trying to incite protests at the site.

Qader was released hours later following a court hearing. Israeli police said the court ordered him to stay away from Jerusalem’s Old City for 15 days.

“The situation is very tense in the Old City,” Husseini said. The area is a section of Arab East Jerusalem which Israel captured in 1967 and annexed as part of its capital, in a move not recognised internationally.

Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta and Mohammed Assadi in Ramallah and Alastair Macdonald in Jerusalem; Editing by Mark Trevelyan