Israel to shut Al-Aqsa mosque site to Jewish visitors

Jerusalem, June 28 (IANS) Israeli police on Tuesday said east Jerusalem’s flashpoint, the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, will be closed to Jewish visitors until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The move aimed at soothing newly erupted clashes at the site between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces, Xinhua news agency reported.

The decision came on the third day of clashes, which included Palestinians hurling stones and firecrackers and Israeli firing gas cannisters. At least seven Palestinians were injured in the clashes, according to Palestinian medical officials.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said riots broke out on Tuesday as well, with youths hurling stones and objects at the police.

She said five Palestinians were arrested on Tuesday for “rioting”, and 11 others on Monday.

The violence broke out after weeks without clashes at the Al Aqsa mosque compound, which is holy to both Muslims and Jews.

The site was at the centre of Palestinian unrest that began in mid-September. The nine-month-long wave of violence saw the death of at least 205 Palestinians and 32 Israelis.

The violence erupted amidst Palestinian fears that Israel is attempting to change the long-held status quo at the site, which allows Jews to visit the compound but not to pray there.

–IANS

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