Israeli police arrest seven during clash at Al-Aqsa mosque, 45 wounded

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JERUSALEM: Israeli police clashed with Palestinian worshippers at a highly sensitive Jerusalem holy site on Sunday as an Israeli holiday coincided with the final days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Jewish visits to the site holy to both religions angered Muslim worshippers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. Police claimed that the protesters barricaded themselves in the mosque, from where they threw chairs and stones at forces who “dispersed” them.

On the other hand, the Muslim Waqf organisation, which oversees the site, said police used rubber bullets and pepper spray, adding that seven people were arrested and 45 were wounded.

It said that police shut the mosque’s doors and chained them.

After the clashes, police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said calm had returned and visits continued.

Al-Aqsa mosque director Omar al-Kiswani accused Israel of violating an agreement not to allow such visits during the last days of Ramadan. He said around 1,200 Jews visited the site on Sunday, while a Jewish organisation that arranges visits there reported a similar number.

The clashes took place as Israelis marked Jerusalem Day, which commemorates the country’s capture of the city’s mainly Palestinian eastern sector in the 1967 Six-Day War.

This year’s holiday coincided with the final days of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting.

The Al-Aqsa compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, is located in east Jerusalem and its status is one of the most sensitive issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It is the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest for Muslims after Mecca and Medina.