Clashes have erupted between Israeli forces and worshippers at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem after noon prayers.
Israeli forces raided the mosque compound and fired stun grenades on Friday, while dozens of worshipers threw stones and chanted: “We sacrifice our blood and souls for you Aqsa”.
One man was wounded and treated inside the mosque compound.
The imam of the mosque, Mohamed Hussian, condemned the violence at one of Islam’s holiest sites – known to Jews as Temple Mount.
Israeli police said they responded after stones were thrown at them [Reuters]
“It is a clear violation which is rejected by all the religions and the international laws,” he said.
“It is a violation against al-Aqsa mosque and the Israeli authorities are responsible, because they order their soldiers to raid the mosque violently, they are responsible for all what is happening in Al-Aqsa mosque.”
Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said police had responded after stones were thrown at them.
“After the Friday prayers on the Temple Mount there were stones that were thrown by number of asked Palestinians toward police officers that were located at the Mughrabi area which is just outside the Temple Mount,” he said
“Israeli police units responded by using stun grenades and entering inside the Temple Mount area, immediately we made sure that we dispersed all the rioters.”
Rosenfeld said police had arrested seven people during the two-hour operation.
Also on Friday, Israeli troops cleared a Palestinian protest camp in the Jordan Valley near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, ending a week-long demonstration against Israel’s refusal to pull out of the area in any future peace deal.
Soldiers, border guards and police asked the protesters to leave before forcefully evicting them, a statement from the army said.
“The agitators were evacuated due to rock hurling earlier this week at the main Jordan Valley route, and other legal considerations,” it said.
But protesters said the army had not given them any warning.
“At 1:30 am on Friday (2330 GMT on Thursday) the army raided the village unexpectedly,” activist Diana al-Zeer said. “They started throwing sound grenades and were very violent while they evacuated us.”
Last Friday, about 300 Palestinians together with Israeli and foreign activists set up the camp in abandoned houses in the village of Ain Hijleh near Jericho in the West Bank to protest against Israel’s refusal to withdraw from the valley in the event of a peace deal.
Israeli Confiscation of Aid
In US-brokered peace talks, Israel has insisted on maintaining a long-term military presence in the Jordan Valley, where the occupied West Bank borders Jordan.
Palestinian leaders want a full withdrawal to make way for an international security force.
The UN last week slammed Israel’s ongoing policy of house demolitions, saying that more than 1,000 people had been displaced last year in the West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem by demolitions on the grounds that homes had been built without Israeli permits, “which are virtually impossible to obtain”.
The Red Cross said on Thursday that it had suspended provision of tents to displaced Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, in a rare protest over Israeli “confiscation” of aid material.
(Agencies and Al Jazeera – www.aljazeera.com)