Al-Aqsa Mosque reopens after clashes

Palestinians shout slogans in front of the Dome of the Rock at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Jerusalem's Old City on July 27, 2018, after the site was reopened. (AFP)
Updated 28 July 2018
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Al-Aqsa Mosque reopens after clashes

  • The Waqf published videos showing police firing tear gas at Palestinians inside the mosque compound
  • Palestinians say a visit to the site by right wing Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked the second intifada IN 2000

JERUSALEM: Israeli police closed the gates to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for several hours on Friday after clashes erupted with Palestinian worshippers following midday prayers at the flashpoint site.
For around four hours all entry into and out of the mosque, which is Islam’s third holiest site, was prevented by Israeli officers, an AFP photographer said, following clashes inside.
The compound was reopened in the early evening, with worshippers flooding in to pray, the photographer said.
Police said the clashes were sparked after Friday midday prayers as “rioters started to throw fireworks directly at police.”
“Police entered the compound and began evacuating the site. During dispersal of the rioters police arrested a number of suspects,” a statement said.
The Waqf, the religious authority that governs the site, published videos showing police firing tear gas at Palestinians inside the mosque compound.
Police later surrounded the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which shares the compound with the gold-topped Dome of the Rock, before entering they said to arrest “several dozen rioters who continued to blockade themselves” in the building. Jordan criticized the Israeli measures.
In a statement, a government spokesman condemned the “ongoing violations and provocations against the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque, especially the Israeli police storming the mosque today and its aggression against the worshippers.”
Ahmed Tibi, an Arab member of the Israeli Parliament, accused Israeli officials of overreacting.
After the fireworks were thrown, he told AFP at the site, “it was calm, why did they close the gates?“
“There is nothing justifying closing them.”
The mosque is a rallying point for Palestinians and Muslims generally, who fear Israel is seeking to change the so-called status quo arrangement at the site.
In July 2017, tens of thousands of Palestinians prayed outside for weeks after Israel installed new metal detectors following an attack at Al-Aqsa, eventually forcing a government u-turn.
Palestinians say a visit to the site by right wing Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked the second intifada, or uprising, in 2000, though Israel disputes this.
Fresh Palestinian protests were taking place along the Gaza-Israel border on Friday evening, a week after an Israeli soldier was shot dead there.
One Palestinian was shot dead near Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, the Health Ministry in Gaza said.


Rocket hits house north of Tel Aviv, Israelis wounded: police, medics

Updated 34 sec ago
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Rocket hits house north of Tel Aviv, Israelis wounded: police, medics

  • Palestinian rockets rarely reach an area at that distance from Gaza
  • Relations between the two states may flare up again after the incident

MISHMERET, Israel: A rocket hit a house in a community north of Tel Aviv and caused it to catch fire on Monday, wounding five Israelis, police and medics said.
Israel’s army had earlier reported a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel but a spokeswoman could not comment further for now.
The house hit was located in the community of Mishmeret, police said. Medics said they were treating one Israeli with moderate wounds and four others injured lightly.
Mishmeret is more than 80 kilometers from the Gaza Strip and rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave at that distance is rare.
It would be sure to draw an Israeli response, risking another escalation between the two sides after mounting tensions in recent weeks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently in Washington, where he is due to meet US President Donald Trump later Monday.
The rocket fire comes at a highly sensitive time for Israel, which holds elections on April 9.