3 police hurt at Arab protest against limited Temple Mount access
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3 police hurt at Arab protest against limited Temple Mount access

Several demonstrations and violent incidents prompt police to close holy site to visitors, as well as to Muslims under 50

A Palestinian woman shouts after being blocked by Israel security forces from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam's third most holy site in Jerusalem on October 13, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
A Palestinian woman shouts after being blocked by Israel security forces from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam's third most holy site in Jerusalem on October 13, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

Three policemen were injured during protests Wednesday against restrictions on Muslim worship at the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said three officers were lightly hurt by stones hurled by protesters in the Old City. The incident occurred at the Gate of the Tribes near the Temple Mount, and prompted police to close the Temple Mount to visitors.

Four Palestinians were also arrested, according to police spokeswoman Luba Samri.

Police used stun grenades as a crowd of about 400 people gathered near the entrance to the mosque, an AFP photographer reported.

Meanwhile, some 250 people demonstrated outside the Lion’s Gate, among them Balad MKs Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Basel Ghattas, according to Israel Radio. The MKs were not involved in any violence, the police stressed.

Police had announced early Wednesday that access to the mosque for men would be limited to those over the age of 50 and were preparing for protests and possible riots in response to the measure.

Police also came under attack from stone throwers in East Jerusalem’s Issawiya neighborhood, but nobody was injured.

In the Jebel Mukaber neighborhood, police arrested two stone throwers. No policemen were injured in the incident.

Police have regularly limited Temple Mount access to both Muslim worshipers and other visitors throughout the past month due to simmering tensions during the Jewish holiday season, which sees Jewish worshipers flock to Jerusalem to pray at the Western Wall below the Temple Mount.

On Tuesday, rioters in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud shot fireworks and threw stones at Border Police forces, injuring one officer. Police responded with riot dispersal measures and arrested one suspect.

Also Tuesday, assailants once again pelted a Jerusalem light rail car with rocks, causing damage but no injuries before fleeing the scene. On Sunday, the transportation company responsible for the trains announced that nine of the 23 light rail trains in Jerusalem have been damaged by rock-throwers in the eastern part of the city and are no longer operational.

في باب الاسباط الآن… قبيل دخولنا الى المسجد الاقصى#القدس

Posted by Haneen zoabi on Tuesday, 14 October 2014

On Monday morning, Israel Police forces surrounded the al-Aqsa mosque and entered the plaza atop the Temple Mount after receiving information that Palestinian activists had gathered stones and set barbed wire obstacles in preparation for planned attacks against Jewish visitors to the site. Upon entering the site, police were met with rocks, firebombs and fireworks, which were hurled at them by the protesters, Israel Radio reported. The rioters were then pushed back into the mosque. Police removed multiple obstacles at the site, including stretches of barbed wire, and it was finally opened to non-Muslim visitors at 7:30 a.m.

The simmering tensions prompted UN Secretary General Bank Ki-moon to say he was “deeply concerned by repeated provocations at the holy sites in Jerusalem,” which “inflame tensions and must stop.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday blamed “Palestinian extremists” for the repeated clashes at the contested site.

AFP contributed to this report.

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