Violence has broken out at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque as police moved in to disperse crowds of stone-throwing Palestinians. Two thousand Israeli police were deployed in the old Town after Muslim leaders had called for a “day of anger.”
Palestinians are unhappy at Israel carrying out excavation work close to Islam’s third most holiest shrine. The Israeli government plans to construct a new walkway leading to the complex after the temporary wooden bridge was damaged due to earthquake and snowstorms in 2004.
Israel claims the work poses no threat to the al-Aqsa compound. However Muslim leaders from Egypt to Iran have condemned the move as provocative. The site in question is sacred to both Muslims and Jews. It is the place of the Dome of the Rock and Al Asqa 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. There are reports of injuries on both sides of the divide with police claiming to have arrested 17 protestors.