Israeli police fire rubber bullets at Al-Aqsa mosque

Israeli police fire rubber bullets at Al-Aqsa mosque

Israeli police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at Palestinian youths who were throwing rocks in the latest outbreak of violence at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque, a site revered by Muslims and Jews.

At least 42 Palestinians were injured in the early morning clashes on Friday at Islam's third-holiest site, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.

Israeli police said they intervened when hundreds of people began hurling rocks and fireworks, including in the direction of the Western Wall, where Jewish worshippers gather.

The police said they will continue to act decisively against rioters and outlaws for public safety and security. There were almost daily confrontations at the mosque this month, when Ramadan overlapped with the Jewish celebration of Passover, which brought hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Jews to the heavily policed site in the old city.

The violence had abated this week after the end of Passover and after Israel stopped Jewish visits to the enormous esplanade, which is home to the gilded seventh-century Dome of the Rock and the eighth-century Al-Aqsa mosque.

The compound is Judaism's holiest site and the vestige of two ancient Jewish temples.

Ramadan ends next week and large crowds often gather at Al-Aqsa mosque on the last Friday of the fasting month.

Israeli officials blamed Islamist groups such as Hamas, which runs the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, for staging riots aimed at stirring anger in the Muslim world against Israel.

Palestinians accused Israel of not doing enough to enforce a longstanding ban on Jewish prayer on the esplanade. Israel denies this accusation.

The al-Aqsa compound is situated on top of the old city plateau of East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the Middle East war in 1967 and annexed in a move that has not won international recognition. Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a state they want to establish in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.