Israeli forces have entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem to disperse stone-throwing Palestinians. They used stun grenades and rubber bullets. A number of injuries and arrests are being reported. Tensions are high at the holy site with Palestinians protesting against Israeli excavations. Palestinian leaders claim the work threatens Islamic archaeological remains.
Israel claims the dig is to salvage artefacts prior to the construction of a pedestrian bridge leading to the complex. The new bridge is to replace the temporary wooden walkway, in place since the original stone ramp was damaged by earthquakes and snowstorms in 2004.
The area is sacred to both the Jews and Muslims. For Muslims the site contains the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosques, where the prophet first prayed and ascended into heaven. For the Jews it is the place of the first and second temples and the rock on which Abraham offered his son as a sacrifice. Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, condemned Israel’s decision to go ahead with the project, describing it as ‘provocative’.