(Update: updates figures) Jerusalem, Apr 15 (EFE).- At least 153 Palestinian faithful and three Israeli police officers were injured during clashes at Al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on the second Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and amid growing tension in the area.
The clashes began early in the morning and resulted in at least 153 Palestinians injured by rubber bullets, stun grenades or beatings, according to the Red Crescent emergency service.
Israeli police reported that “hundreds of rioters” were detained after three of its officers were injured.
A police spokesman said that the incidents began Friday morning with the throwing of stones and fireworks by Palestinians who gathered at the site, holy to both Jews and Muslims.
Given this, he added, the troops waited for the end of morning prayers to intervene and disperse the protesters, triggering clashes.
Israel’s foreign ministry tweeted that “dozens of masked men carrying Hamas and PA (Palestinian Authority) flags marched into Al-Aqsa mosque in the early morning hours, chanting inciting messages and setting off fireworks,” adding that they collected rocks and stones, and hurled them at Mugrabi Gate.
“Police were forced to enter the grounds to disperse the crowd and remove the stones and rocks, in order to prevent further violence.”
The incidents not only took place in open areas of the compound but also inside the Al-Aqsa mosque itself, Islam’s third holiest site and rarely accessed by Israeli security forces.
Official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that “dozens of Israeli police units broke into” the mosque and “attacked the thousands of Muslim worshippers performing the dawn prayer.”
Israeli forces said violent rioters barricaded themselves inside the mosque and continued inciting violence.
These events take place amid growing tension in the region, after a week of violence in the occupied West Bank, where the Israeli army has carried out multiple raids after a series of Palestinian attacks in recent weeks.
A 17-year-old died Friday morning as a result of injuries sustained Thursday in clashes with Israeli security forces, raising to seven the number of Palestinians killed in violence in the West Bank in the last two days.
Until Friday, Jerusalem had not been the scene of any of the main incidents in recent weeks, which include four serious attacks in Israel and multiple military operations in West Bank territory. EFE pd/tw/mp