Clashes rock at Al-Aqsa mosque compound on last day of Muslim holiday

Friday 25/09/2015
High tensions in recent weeks

JERUSALEM - Clashes broke out between masked Palestinians and Israeli security forces at Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Sunday, the last day of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, police said.
A police statement said young Palestinians "threw stones and fireworks at police and border police forces," who responded with "riot dispersal means".
Tensions in and around the compound have been running high in recent weeks, which have also seen Jews mark their High Holidays.
Al-Aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam, is also venerated by Jews as the Temple Mount and is considered the most sacred place in Judaism.
Muslims have been alarmed by an increase in visits by Jews and fear rules governing the compound will be changed. Jews are allowed to visit but not to pray to avoid provoking tensions.
Age restrictions on Muslim men entering the compound had been lifted on Sunday, while visits by Jews were stopped.
Police said the situation was currently "under control."
Meanwhile, Israeli police have arrested four Palestinian teenagers on suspicion of the stoning of a Jewish man's car this month that caused a fatal crash and helped trigger new measures targeting stone-throwers.
Police said late Saturday the four suspects were aged 16 to 19 and residents of Sur Baher, the east Jerusalem Palestinian district near where the attack took place on September 13 during the Jewish Rosh Hashanah, or New Year, holiday.
The stones had hit the car of 64-year-old Alexander Levlovich, causing him to veer off the road and hit a tree. He died in the crash, and two female passengers were injured.
Shortly afterwards, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the site of the crash and vowed "war" on stone-throwers.
Netanyahu's security cabinet last week broadened the rules under which stone-throwers can be targeted by live fire, while setting minimum sentences and authorising larger fines for stone-throwing minors and their parents.
Palestine Liberation Organisation secretary general Saeb Erekat criticised the measures, saying "the Israeli government continues to incite against Palestinian lives, with a culture of hate that dehumanises a whole nation."
The Jewish Sukkot holiday that begins on Sunday night is expected to lead to an increase in the number of Jewish visitors to the Al-Aqsa compound over the coming days, potentially adding to the volatility.
The Al-Aqsa compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, is the third-holiest site in Islam and the most sacred in Judaism.

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