After Months of Quiet, Scuffles Erupt After Jews Ascend Temple Mount
For second day in a row, masked Muslim worshipers throw stones at police and Jewish visitors to flashpoint site.
Violent clashes erupted on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem on Monday, following a day of violence that marked for first time violence erupted at the flashpoint site in several months, with only 10 days left until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
In recent years the police prevented Jews from ascending the Temple Mount during the final days of Ramadan, but the police and Public Security Ministry decided to allow them to enter the compound as usual, on Sunday and on Monday.
Masked Muslim worshipers threw stones and verbally lambasted officers securing the Jewish visit on Monday. A number of Palestinians were wounded after police fired rubber bullets.
A police source said the decision was based on a situational assessment.
Immediately after the area was opened Sunday, however, Palestinian men, some masked, began to throw stones at the visitors and the policemen who were guarding them. One policeman was lightly injured and treated at the scene.
Most of the confrontations took place outside Al-Aqsa Mosque, where the protesters entrenched themselves. Rumors that police had actually entered the mosque circulated on Palestinian social networks and in the Arabic media. But despite the scuffles, police continued to enable non-Muslims to visit the compound; in the end only 18 Jews did so, along with 375 tourists.
The police decision to allow the Temple Mount visits also reflected the fact that Passover and Jerusalem Day, holidays which in past years had been marked by violent incidents involving Palestinians, passed relatively quietly this year as well.
Ramadan has been relatively quiet in Jerusalem this year. The Friday prayers have passed without any exceptional incidents and calm has prevailed in the city's Palestinian neighborhoods.
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