Police and worshipers clash outside Israeli mosque

Police and worshipers clash outside Israeli mosque

Israeli police clashed with Muslim worshipers at a major holy site in Jerusalem during prayers on Sunday to mark the start of the Islamic holiday Eid al-Adha.

Palestinian medics said at least 14 people were wounded in skirmishes with police at the site, which Muslims refer to as the Al-Aqsa Compound and Jews call the Temple Mount.

Police said at least four officers were wounded and witnesses say at least two people were arrested.

Officers fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets in the worst violence at the contested site in months.

The clashes came amid heightened tensions between Israel and Palestine, just days after an Israeli soldier was killed south of Jerusalem. Israeli troops killed four Palestinians who the army said had attempted to cross the Gaza border on Saturday (local time).

Tens of thousands of Muslims had gathered at the site in Jerusalem’s Old City early on Sunday for holiday prayers, police said. Jews were also observing the Ninth of Av on Sunday, a day of fasting and mourning for the destruction of the two Biblical temples that stood at the site in antiquity.

The site is the holiest for Jews and the third holiest for Muslims after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, and has long been a flash-point and major point of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Jordan, which serves as a custodian of the site, said in a statement that it had sent a formal complaint to Israel and condemned its “irresponsible provocations.”

Sufan al-Qudah, a spokesperson for the Jordanian foreign ministry, said Jordan held Israel completely responsible for the violence.

The compound is in east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War along with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, territories claimed by Palestinian authorities. Israel views all of Jerusalem as its unified capital, while the Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as their capital.

Tensions have spiked since US President Donald Trump’s decision in 2017 to break with international convention and recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The Israel-Palestinian peace protest has been stagnant for at least a decade, and the Palestinians have cut ties with the Trump administration over perceived White House bias toward Israel.

Balanced journalism is essential to keeping people properly informed. If you feel our coverage of this story is biased, please let us know.