Israeli police clash with Palestinian worshippers at Al-Aqsa mosque
LONDON - Israeli police closed the gates to Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound Friday, an AFP photographer said, after clashes erupted with Palestinian worshippers following midday prayers.
The Waqf, the religious authority that runs the mosque, confirmed the gates were closed after clashes broke out. Israeli police did not immediately comment.
Entry into and out of the mosque, which is Islam’s third holiest site, was banned, the photographer said.
The cause of the clashes was not immediately clear, but videos published by the Waqf showed police firing tear gas to disperse Palestinians.
The site also includes the Western Wall, the most sacred site to Jews, and the Dome of the Rock.
It is one of the most fractious issues in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
In July 2017 tens of thousands of Palestinians prayed outside for weeks after Israel installed new metal detectors after an attack.
Palestinians say a visit to the site by right wing Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked the second intifada, or uprising, in 2000.
Israel to build 400 new settler homes
Israel is to build hundreds of new homes in a settlement in the occupied West Bank where a Palestinian stabbed three Israelis, one fatally, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Friday.
“The best answer to terrorism is the expansion of settlements,” Lieberman wrote on Twitter, announcing 400 new housing units in the Adam settlement north of Jerusalem a day after the deadly stabbing.
The teenage attacker went into the settlement on Thursday evening by climbing a wall, the Israeli army said.
He stabbed three people before being shot dead.
The attacker was later identified by official Palestinian media as Mohammed Dar Youssef, 17, from the village of Kobar.
The army said Friday it had raided the village, questioned a number of his family members and suspended their work permits.
During the raid on Friday morning, clashes broke out between young Palestinians and soldiers firing tear gas.
“The rioters hurled large rocks and firebombs and rolled burning tyres at (Israeli) troops, who responded with riot dispersal means,” an army statement said.
The clashes were over by mid-morning Friday, an AFP photographer said, though the army had established a checkpoint at the edge of the village.
Official Palestinian news agency Wafa said three people were arrested.
The army added it was “reinforcing the defence” of Adam and other settlements.
All Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank is considered illegal by the international community.
US President Donald Trump’s special envoy Jason Greenblatt called on Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, whose Fatah movement leads the government in the West Bank, to condemn the attack.
“Yet another barbaric attack tonight. When will President Abbas and Palestinian leaders condemn the violence?” he wrote on Twitter.
There was no response from Abbas’s government, which has cut ties with the Trump administration over its stance on Jerusalem.
(The Arab Weekly and news agencies)