Police pelted with stones and firecrackers in Temple Mount clash
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Police pelted with stones and firecrackers in Temple Mount clash

3 arrested, 2 officers and dozens of Palestinians reported injured; incident likely linked to Knesset debate on 'loss of Israeli sovereignty' over site

Israeli border policemen patrol near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City on February 25, 2014. Earlier in the day, police entered the Mount compound to disperse stone-throwing Palestinian protesters. (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli border policemen patrol near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City on February 25, 2014. Earlier in the day, police entered the Mount compound to disperse stone-throwing Palestinian protesters. (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli police forces in Jerusalem were showered with stones and firecrackers Tuesday morning, as Palestinian youth seemingly protested an upcoming debate on Israeli sovereignty of the contested holy site.

The clashes began when officers opened the Mughrabi Gate, an entrance to the Temple Mount next to the Western Wall which is the only access for non-Muslims to the Mount.

The perpetrators, whom police said were a group of young men, some of them masked, were dispersed by the officers with the use of stun grenades.

Two officers were lightly injured and three suspects were arrested.

Palestinian media reported dozens of protesters were injured by rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades.The Ma’an news agency reported two Palestinians were seriously injured, one from a rubber bullet shot to the nose.

Police said the site would remain open despite the incident.

Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said that the attack was likely related to a Knesset debate, scheduled for Tuesday, on the issue of Israeli control of the Temple Mount.

That debate on “the loss of Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount,” rescheduled from last week, was initiated by right-wing lawmaker MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud), whose visits to the Temple Mount regularly draw media and police attention. Feiglin was arrested for praying there in October 2012 and January 2013, before he became an MK.

Last week, the planned debate drew condemnation from Jordan’s parliament, whose Palestine Committee said a move to expand Israeli control over the sensitive site would be a violation of “Jordanian national sovereignty and is tantamount to a breach of the peace treaty signed between Jordan and Israel.”

The Temple Mount itself is jointly administered by the Jordanian government and the Jerusalem-based Islamic Waqf, an arrangement in place since Israel captured the Old City and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed them. Regarded as a holy site by both Judaism and Islam, proposed changes to the status quo at the Mount are often a source of unrest.

Police restrictions bar Jews from praying or engaging in other religious activities while on visits to the Mount.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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