Al Aqsa Mosque closure: 50 Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli police

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The Red Crescent reported on Tuesday that some 50 Palestinians were wounded in overnight clashes with Israeli police near a Jerusalem site holy to Jews and Muslims.

The Red Crescent said among the 50 wounded Palestinians, 15 of them were hit by rubber bullets.

The rioting was sparked by new security measures introduced over the weekend by the Israelis after police were attacked at the site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Jerusalem Grand Mufti Mohammed Hussein criticised the new measures which included metal detectors and turnstiles at the entrance to the site as altering the status quo.

The Palestinians feared that Israel would retake control of the site by stealth.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that he did not want to alter the status quo, which gives Muslims religious control over the site and permits Jews to visit but not pray there.

The site is sacred to both religions, as it houses the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock shrine, Islam’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina, but also the ruins of the Biblical Jewish Temple.

Questions about control of the site frequently lead to outbursts of fighting.

Two Israeli police officers were killed and another injured after three men opened fire on security officers working at the site.

The attackers, believed to be Israeli Arabs, were also killed, Israel then closed off the area, preventing Friday prayers at the al-Aqsa Mosque.

In its reaction, President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party on Tuesday called for a “Day of Rage’’ as 50 Palestinians were wounded in overnight clashes near a Jerusalem site.

The “Day of Rage’’ is set to take place on Wednesday over new security measures introduced at the weekend by the Israelis after police were attacked at the site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

The Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements have also called for protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the new security measures, which include metal detectors and turnstiles at the entrance to the site.

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