JERUSALEM: Israeli police armed with stun grenades and tear gas clashed with rock-throwing Palestinian youths who barricaded themselves inside Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque on Tuesday, police and witnesses said, in the third day of violence at the sacred site.
Masked Palestinians hurled flares at the security forces, who said they were trying to secure the plaza outside Islam’s third holiest shrine to stop what they called Palestinian attempts to disrupt visits to the compound on Jewish New Year.
The United States and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon both said they are concerned about the violence at the site, revered by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount.
King Abdullah from neighbouring Jordan said the Israeli actions were provocative and could imperil ties between the countries, state media reported in Tuesday and Palestinian PresidentMahmoud Abbas condemned Israel’s actions.
Jordan’s Hashemite dynasty derives part of its legitimacy from its traditional custodianship of the holy site. Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1994.
“If this continues to happen … Jordan will have no choice but to take action,” King Abdullah was quoted as saying without elaborating. Palestinian Presidency Spokesperson Nabil Abu Rdeinah said Abbas and King Abdullah had discussed the events by phone.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to hold an emergency ministerial meeting late on Tuesday, called after an Israeli motorist died in a crash police said was caused by suspected stone-throwing.
Twenty-six Palestinians were injured on Tuesday, none of them seriously, the Director of thePalestinian Red Crescent emergency unit, Amin Abu Ghazaleh, said.
Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said five officers were lightly wounded and two Palestinians were arrested.
Some stone throwing spread to other areas of the Old City, police and a witness said, with noinjuries reported.
Jewish ultra-nationalists have been pushing the Israeli government to allow Jewish prayer on the compound outside al-Aqsa, which stands above Judaism’s Western Wall.
Such worship, certain to stir Muslim anger, has been banned on the plaza by Israel since it captured East Jerusalem, and its Old City, in the 1967 Middle East war and Netanyahu has said he would not allow any change to the status quo.
There have been surges of clashes and stone-throwing in Jerusalem in recent months and Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been frozen since 2014.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel after the 1967 war, as the capital of a state they aspire to establish in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.
Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its indivisible and eternal capital, a claim not recognised internationally.