Israeli police storm Jerusalem holy site after Palestinians attack gate

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Israeli police storm Jerusalem holy site after Palestinians attack gate

Israeli police in full riot gear have stormed a sensitive Jerusalem holy site sacred to Jews and Muslims after Palestinian youths hurled stones at a gate where they were stationed.

The renewed violence at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Friday came after Israel temporarily halted Jewish visits, which are seen by the Palestinians as a provocation.

More than two dozen Palestinians were wounded, according to Medics.

Palestinians and Israeli police clashed at the site over the last week, amid heightened tensions after a string of deadly attacks inside Israel and arrests in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli forces have killed 29 Palestinians in West Bank raids since March, and a series of deadly attacks by Palestinians have killed 14 people in Israel.

Three rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

The string of events has raised fears that a repeat of last year's violence in Jerusalem, when protests and violence in the city of Jerusalem eventually boiled over, causing an 11 day Gaza war and communal violence in Israel's mixed cities.

Palestinian youths hurled stones toward police at a gate leading into the compound, according to two Palestinian witnesses who spoke on condition of anonymity out of security concerns.

The police, dressed in full riot gear, entered the compound, firing rubber bullets and stun grenades.

Israeli police said the Palestinians had begun stockpiling stones and erecting crude fortifications before dawn.

The police said that after the rock-throwing began, they waited until after early morning prayers had finished before entering the compound.

Several older Palestinians urged the youths to stop throwing rocks but were ignored, as dozens of young masked men hurled stones and fireworks at the police.

A tree caught fire near the gate where the clashes began.

At least 27 Palestinians were wounded, two of them seriously, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent medical service.

The Al - Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City is the third holiest site in Islam.

The large esplanade on which it is built is the holiest site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount because it was the site of two Jewish temples in antiquity.

It is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the clashes there have often ignited violence elsewhere.

Palestinians and neighbouring Jordan accuse Israel of violating the longstanding arrangements by allowing more Jews to visit the site under police escort.

A longstanding prohibition on Jews praying at the site has eroded in recent years, which has resulted in fears among Palestinians that Israel plans to take over the site or partition it.

Israel says it remains committed to the status quo and blames the violence on incitement by the Islamic militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza.

It says its security forces are working to remove rock-throwers in order to ensure the freedom of worship for Jews and Muslims.

Visits by Jewish groups were halted beginning Friday for the last 10 days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as they have been in the past.

Hundreds of people from all three faiths flock to the Old City this year after the lifting of most coronaviruses restrictions, as Ramadan coincided with Passover and major Christian holidays.

The Old City is located in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war along with the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move that is not recognised internationally and considers the whole city its capital.

The Palestinians want an independent state in all three territories and view east Jerusalem as their capital.