News / Middle East

Top Palestinian Cleric, Israel Trade Barbs

A Palestinian woman looks on as Israeli policemen prevent people from entering the compound which houses al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem's Old City April 16, 2014.
A Palestinian woman looks on as Israeli policemen prevent people from entering the compound which houses al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem's Old City April 16, 2014.
Reuters
The most senior Islamic cleric in Jerusalem said on Sunday Israeli police hurled stun grenades into al-Aqsa mosque, Islam's third holiest site, to quell the latest in a string of Palestinian protests at the politically sensitive holy site.

Israeli police denied the allegation, saying officers threw the non-lethal devices, which emit a loud noise, on a plaza outside the mosque after protesters threw rocks and firecrackers at them.

The demonstrators, who have confronted police for the past four days in a bid to stop Israeli and foreign visitors from entering the holy compound, then retreated into al-Aqsa, a police spokesman said.

Tensions at the site run high during Jewish holidays - Jews are now celebrating Passover - when Palestinians are on alert against any attempt by Jews to pray on the compound in defiance of a de facto Israeli government ban on such worship.

Five Palestinians and two police officers were reported injured in Sunday's face-off at the complex revered by Jews as Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. Police said they arrested 16 Palestinians during the latest protests.

Israeli security forces, while operating on the holy compound, shy away from entering al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock shrine at the complex situated in the walled Old City of Jerusalem.

Israel captured East Jerusalem, along with the West Bank, in the 1967 Middle East war.

Grand Mufti Mohammed Hussein said he was present at Sunday's protests and said police “threw the sound bombs into the [al-Aqsa] mosque itself.”

Hussein did not say how many grenades landed inside the mosque.

He condemned the incident as “an unacceptable and very dangerous escalation.”

Grenade assault denied

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld denied grenades were thrown inside the mosque saying Arab protesters had “retreated into the mosque where they knew we would not enter.”

Hussein said Israeli police also fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the protesters, but only outside the mosque, injuring five people. Rosenfeld denied any weapons were discharged other than the stun grenades.

Palestinian concerns have been heightened because allies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are among the most vocal advocates of Jewish prayer at the 25-acre complex, which also houses the Dome of the Rock, where Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammad ascended to heaven.

A visit in 2000 to the holy site by then-Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon after peace talks broke down was followed by a five-year-long Palestinian uprising.

Tensions at the holy site coincided with a crisis in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, at risk of collapse unless negotiators can agree to extend their talks beyond an April 29 deadline set by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Sovereignty over the compound is at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Palestinians want to make East Jerusalem the capital of the state they aim to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Israel, citing historical and biblical links, regards all of Jerusalem as its capital, a claim that is not recognized internationally.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid