Clashes erupt in Jerusalem amid Temple Mount unrest
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Clashes erupt in Jerusalem amid Temple Mount unrest

Rioters block roads, hurl stones, firebombs at police in Old City, East Jerusalem neighborhoods over new security measures; at least 5 injured

Israeli border guards detain a young protester during a demonstration outside the Lions Gate in Jerusalem's Old City on July 17, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
Israeli border guards detain a young protester during a demonstration outside the Lions Gate in Jerusalem's Old City on July 17, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

Dozens of Muslims protesters clashed with police outside of Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday amid continued tensions over new security measures put in place at the entrance to the Temple Mount after Friday’s terror attack.

During the scuffles near Lions Gate, police officers called to the scene to disperse protesters blocking a road adjacent to the Old City were attacked with rocks and other objects, police said.

The Red Crescent told the Palestinian Wafa news agency that five protesters were injured during the confrontations, including the chairman of the Palestinian National Initiative party, Mustafa Barghouti.

The Wafa report said that three people were injured after being beaten by police, one person was injured by a stun grenade and Barghouti was hit in the head with a rubber-coated bullet.

Clashes were also reported in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan and Issawiya. Rioters hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at police officers who responded with riot-dispersal means.

Following Friday’s terror attack, in which three residents of the Arab-Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm shot to death two police officers at the Temple Mount, Israel closed the compound for the first time in decades, only reopening it to Muslims on Sunday and to non-Muslims on Monday.

As part of the security measures taken in the wake of the shooting to prevent further such attacks, police installed metal detectors at the entrance to the site, which Jerusalem police commissioner Yoram Halevi said were necessary for it to reopen. Friday’s gunmen emerged armed from the compound and opened fire on the police officers stationed outside.

The placement of the metal detectors has been met with outrage by the Muslim religious authority charged with managing the Temple Mount. Muslims have held prayers outside the metal detectors to protest their placement at the gates.

Along with other Islamic groups, the Waqf trust, which administers the site, on Monday called on Muslims “to reject and boycott all the Israeli aggression measures, including changing the historical status quo including imposing the metal detectors.”

In its statement, the Waqf called on the faithful not to enter the mosque by passing through the metal detectors, adding, “If the metal detectors continue to be imposed, we call upon the people to pray in front of the gates of the mosque and in the streets of Jerusalem.”

Muslim worshipers pray outside the Old City of Jerusalem's Lions Gate in protest of the placement of metal detectors at entrances to the Temple Mount on July 17, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
Muslim worshipers pray outside the Old City of Jerusalem’s Lions Gate in protest of the placement of metal detectors at entrances to the Temple Mount on July 17, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

On Monday afternoon, light clashes broke out in the Old City, when police ordered a group of Muslim protesters off a road they were trying to block with a prayer session.

Police said a Muslim teenager was arrested after throwing a bottle at police.

Scuffles also broke out on Sunday, but police said hundreds of Muslims visited the site nonetheless.

Jews revere the site, where the two Jewish temples stood in biblical times, as the Temple Mount. It is the holiest site in Judaism and the nearby Western Wall, a retaining wall of one of the temples, is the holiest place where Jews can pray.

Muslims regard the same hilltop compound as the Noble Sanctuary. Home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock. It is Islam’s third-holiest site, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

A picture taken on July 17, 2017, shows the Temple Mount compound in the Old City of Jerusalem. (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)
The Temple Mount compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, July 17, 2017. (AFP Photo/ Thomas Coex)

The fate of the compound is an emotional issue and forms the centerpiece of rival Israeli and Palestinian national narratives. Any perceived changes to the delicate arrangements at the site can spark tensions. Its closure after Friday’s attack prompted condemnations from the Arab world, many of which made no reference to the terror attack that prompted the closure.

Dov Lieber and AP contributed to this report.

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