Violence erupts again at Al-Aqsa Mosque


Israeli police clashed with Palestinians at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque a second time on Wednesday, witnesses said, hours after the arrest and removal of more than 350 people in a police raid at the compound and despite a US appeal to ease tensions.

In the second instance, late at night, police entered the compound and tried to evacuate worshippers, using stun grenades and firing rubber bullets, said staff of the Waqf, the Jordanian-appointed Islamic organisation managing the complex.

Worshippers threw objects at police, witnesses said. The Palestinian Red Crescent said six people were injured.

In a statement, police said dozens of youngsters brought rocks and firecrackers into the mosque and had tried to barricade themselves inside. The Waqf, however, said police entered the mosque before prayers were over.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said “Israel’s raid into Al-Aqsa mosque, its assault on worshippers, is a slap to recent US efforts which tried to create calm and stability during the month of Ramadan.”

Less than 24 hours earlier, police raided the mosque to try to remove what they said were masked agitators who locked themselves inside after attempts to remove them by dialogue failed.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said 12 Palestinians were injured in the earlier clash, including from rubber-tipped bullets and beatings. Israeli police said two officers were injured.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby voiced concern about the violence at the mosque and said it was imperative that Israelis and Palestinians de-escalate tensions.

At least nine rockets from Gaza were fired into Israel after the first clash, drawing air strikes which Israel said targeted weapon production sites.

No casualties were reported on either side of the Gaza border. 

Just before the second Al-Aqsa clash, two more rockets were fired from Gaza. The Israeli military said one fell short and the other in an open space.

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