Temple Mount Closed to Visitors as Police, Palestinians Clash

For first time ever, violence spreads to the Old City's Muslim Quarter; two Border Policemen reportedly lightly wounded in clashes.

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Israeli police manning a checkpoint at the entrance to the Temple Mount, April 20, 2014.
Israeli police manning a checkpoint at the entrance to the Temple Mount, April 20, 2014.Credit: AFP
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

Two Border Police members were lightly wounded on Sunday in clashes with rioting Palestinian youths on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

For the first time in the current round of violence, the rioting spread beyond the Temple Mount and into the Old City's Muslim Quarter.

The Temple Mount was closed from the morning due to the violence.

Police said that dozens of Palestinian youths, many of them masked, were throwing stones and fire-crackers at police forces from within the Al-Aksa mosque.

Twenty-four Palestinian youths were arrested overnight in an effort to quell the violence, which has rocked the Temple Mount virtually every day for the past week.

Some 25 Palestinians were wounded, one seriously, in rioting last Wednesday, according to Palestinian sources. One police officer was lightly wounded by stone-throwing.

Dozens of young Palestinians slept inside the Temple Mount on Saturday night and a large police force was in place.

MK Miri Regev (Likud) cancelled a previously planned visit to the mount, which is regarded as holy by both Muslims and Jews.

After a police assessment early Sunday morning that young Palestinians were planning additional rioting, Jerusalem Police Chief Yossi Pariente decided to limit entry to the mount for prayer purposes to men over the age of 50 who are Israeli residents (holding blue ID books) and women of every age.

Large forces of police have been positioned since early morning Sunday to prevent any attempt to disturb the peace in the Old City and throughout east Jerusalem.

Also on Sunday, a number of Jewish Israelis threw stones at Palestinian vehicles in East Jerusalem, Palestinian sources reported. Bus windows were shattered, they said, but no one was injured.

Overnight, police arrested five youths who attempted to enter the Temple Mount by climbing over its eastern wall. The youths, who had tear gas in their possession, were held for questioning.

Tensions on the Temple Mount, known in Arabic as Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary, have increased recently, with barely a day passing without any incident in recent months.

Most incidents involve Jews attempting to access the area in order to pray or demonstrate a Jewish presence. The growing strength of the Jewish Temple Movement and other organizations that seek to change the status quo on the Temple Mount has exacerbated these tensions, as has the crisis in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

This article was edited on April 22.

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