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Palestinians, police scuffle as Jews visit Temple Mount on Rosh Hashanah; 4 arrested

Police accuse Palestinians of ‘desecrating’ Al-Aqsa Mosque by launching fireworks, throwing rocks from inside it; security forces blame ‘online incitement’ for violence

A screenshot from a video released by police on September 26, 2022, shows fireworks being shot off during scuffles between Palestinians and officers at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City. (Twitter screenshot, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A screenshot from a video released by police on September 26, 2022, shows fireworks being shot off during scuffles between Palestinians and officers at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City. (Twitter screenshot, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Palestinians scuffled with police in Jerusalem’s Old City Monday morning as Jewish visitors toured the flashpoint Temple Mount to mark the Jewish new year.

According to police, a group of young Palestinians barricaded themselves overnight in the Temple Mount’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and began launching fireworks from within as the Rosh Hashanah visits began.

Video released by police appeared to show fireworks being shot from an alcove above a door to the mosque, which a spokesman for the force accused the Palestinians of “desecrating.”

Police later put out further footage showing rocks being hurled from a door to the mosque and several masked suspects emerging to throw stones before retreating back inside.

Clashes also took place around the nearby Lion’s Gate to the Old City, with police saying rioters threw rocks at officers.

At least four people were arrested.

“The visits [by Jews] to the Temple Mount are taking place alongside Muslim prayers as usual,” police spokesman Eli Levi said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Police said the clashes came as “false reports” about the Temple Mount have circled on social media, which were meant “to incite violence” and stir up tensions over the super-sensitive holy site.

A police statement charged the posts were the work of “hostile parties.”

“Whoever violates the order at the holy sites and acts with violence of any type will be dealt with decisively,” the statement said.

Last week, the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group threatened violent “repercussions” over Jewish visits to the Temple Mount during the High Holidays — which began Sunday evening with Rosh Hashanah and run into mid-October — when the number of visitors rises.

Hamas regularly describes itself as the primary force defending Al-Aqsa against Israel.

The holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem has long been the focus of tensions, but Palestinians have voiced increasing anger at the rising number of visits by Jews, thousands of whom are expected to visit Jerusalem’s Old City during the High Holidays.

Jews visit the Temple Mount on Erev Rosh Hashanah, September 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Jews visited the Temple Mount more than 50,000 times over the past year, a record high and nearly twice as many as the year before, according to an activist group.

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev said last week that Israeli authorities would not limit Jewish visits to the Temple Mount.

Israel captured the Old City, along with the rest of East Jerusalem, from Jordan in the Six Day War of 1967.

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and is revered as the location of both ancient Jewish temples. The compound is Islam’s third holiest site and is managed by Jordan, as part of a delicate arrangement with Israel.

The scuffles came after overnight clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

It wasn’t immediately clear what set off the confrontations, which came with police and the army on high alert in Jerusalem and the West Bank. There were no reports of injuries.

Police and troop levels had been bolstered ahead of the holiday, with tensions already running high in recent months due to an Israeli terror crackdown in the West Bank.

AFP contributed to this report.

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