Palestinians, Israeli forces clash amid holy site tensions

An Israeli policeman prevents a Palestinian man from entering in Occupied Jerusalem's Old City. (Reuters)

Palestinian demonstrators clashed with Israeli troops across the West Bank on Tuesday as tensions remained high following days of violence at Occupied Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, was largely quiet on Tuesday. About 600 tourists and 100 Israelis visited the site without serious incident.

Israel has barred Muslim men under the age of 50 from entering the compound in recent days in a move it says is aimed at easing tensions.

The site has experienced repeated clashes over the past two weeks as Palestinian protesters barricaded themselves inside the Aqsa Mosque.

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The compound located in the Old City is a frequent flashpoint and its fate is a core issue at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war, as their capital.

The compound is sacred to Muslims as it is the place where they believe Islam’s Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

Under an internationally agreed status-quo Jews are allowed to visit but not pray there.

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The Palestinians view such visits as provocations as rumors spread that Jews are planning on taking over the site, fueling the recent clashes. Israel says there are no plans to change the arrangements. But calls by a group of religious Jews to visit the site, coupled with periodic Israeli restrictions on Muslim visits, have inflamed tensions.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement meanwhile staged a series of protests in the West Bank on Tuesday.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, about 300 protesters affiliated with Fatah marched toward the nearby Israeli settlement of Bet El. Israeli forces used tear gas, stun grenades and fired rubber and low-caliber bullets at the legs of “main instigators,” it said.

At least six Palestinian suffered leg injuries.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48