Israeli police fired stun grenades at Arab youths during clashes in the compound of Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City.
Twelve people were arrested. Violence erupted at the the scene a month ago when a similar incident led to restrictions on entry for worhsippers. This time 100 or so young men and boys were dispersed by the Israeli security forces. The doors to the mosque were closed and running battles then ensued in the narrow streets . Lumps of masonary and steel were hurled down from the rooftops onto the pursuing troops. The Al-Aqsa compound, is one of Islam’s holiest sites. It has been a tinderbox for conflict since Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in the 1967 war. Palestinian officials have been complaining that Israel appears to tightening its grip on the area, which houses the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ruled out any change in Israel’s position that the city must be the united capital of the Jewish state. Palestinians fear they could be denied their cultural heritage. Palestinian Authority press spokesman Ghassan Khatib said: “The Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority are worried about these dangerous provocations.” A visit to the mosque compound nine years ago by Israeli right-wing leader Ariel Sharon is often cited as the cause of the Palestinian Intafada, or uprising, in which several thousand people died during five years of violence which wrecked hopes of a peace settlement.