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Rioters hurl stones, firebombs at police on Temple Mount

Site closed to visitors after Mughrabi Gate disturbance, 2 police officers lightly injured

Illustrative photo of Israeli police on the Temple Mount. (Sliman Khader/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of Israeli police on the Temple Mount. (Sliman Khader/Flash90)

Riot police were called in to quell a violent protest at the Temple Mount’s Mughrabi gate as the site opened to visitors Sunday morning.

Two police were lightly injured after rioters threw stones and two Molotov cocktails at about 8 a.m., police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said.

The Mount, located at the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City, was closed after the incident.

Police responded by entering the al-Aqsa mosque compound and using stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the rioters, he said.

He said police quickly took control of the situation and extra units were posted to prevent any further disturbances.

There was no immediate word on arrests.

Rosenfeld said police would carry out a security assessment later to determine if the site could be reopened to visitors.

Tourists and Israelis enter the Temple Mount at designated hours through the Mughrabi Gate, the only non-Muslim entrance to the holy plaza.

Disturbances on the Temple Mount are not uncommon, and often accompany political tension or visits by Israeli right-wing activists.

On March 16, rioters on the site threw rocks ahead of a visit by Housing Minister Uri Ariel, who was forced to cut short his visit because of the riot.

“The reality where there are disturbances on the Temple Mount and these prevent Jews from ascending is unacceptable,” Ariel said. “I went up this morning and I intend to continue to do so in the future, and I demand from the security forces to secure Jewish sovereignty and allow any Jew to go to the Temple Mount freely.”

On February 27, officers were pelted with stones and firecrackers at the Mughrabi Gate. Two officers were lightly injured and three suspects were arrested. Earlier in February, hundreds of young worshipers hurled rocks at Israeli police on Temple Mount just after Muslim Friday prayers concluded at the al-Aqsa mosque. Police forces broke up the demonstration using stun grenades. No injuries were reported. Five suspects were arrested in the incident.

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