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Israeli Police Storm Disputed Jerusalem Holy Site


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There was violence today at the most sensitive holy shrine in Jerusalem revered by both Muslims and Jews. At least 15 Palestinians were arrested, but there were no serious injuries.

Israeli police stormed into a disputed holy place in Jerusalem's Old City and threw stun grenades to disperse Palestinian stone throwers. The clash took place at the Mosque of Al Aksa, the third holiest place in Islam. Jews call it the Temple Mount, the site of the two biblical Temples and holiest place of all.

Riot police carrying plexiglass shields closed in on the crowd and made arrests. Some Palestinians barricaded themselves inside the mosque, but police did not go in.

There have been sporadic clashes at the site over the past three weeks, amid unsubstantiated rumors that Jewish militants plan to seize control of the Al Aksa compound. Israeli police commissioner Dudi Cohen blamed Islamic leaders in Israel for fomenting the violence.

Cohen said he saw many Israeli Arab leaders of the Islamic Movement in the area of the Temple Mount. He called on them to keep the peace and avoid incitement.

Palestinian officials expressed outrage over the incident, saying Israeli police actions were a provocation to all Muslims. Israeli Arab parliamentarian Ahmad Tibi blames the Israeli government.

"They are willing to prove that they are here the sovereign with strength and power. But the rightist government is playing with fire," Tibi said.

The holy place is the focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Second Palestinian Uprising began at the site in 2000 and any clash there raises fears of a new eruption of violence.