(JERUSALEM) — Israeli police briefly clashed with Palestinian protesters at Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site early Sunday, raising tensions in the holy city ahead of the Jewish New Year.
Police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, said forces moved into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound at around 7 a.m. Sunday after police received reports that protesters were planning to disrupt visits to the area by Jewish worshippers and tourists.
He said the protesters barricaded themselves inside the mosque and threw rocks and firecrackers at police. He said police did not enter the mosque, but removed barricades around the building. Suspected pipe bombs were found at the entrance to the mosque, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.
Police released video showing lit firecrackers and other objects thrown by Palestinians inside the mosque at the officers on the outside with some firecrackers exploding within the holy site.
The site is a frequent flashpoint of violence. Since Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, Jewish worshippers have been allowed to visit — but not pray — at the site. The area is administered by Muslim authorities and is under Jordanian custody. Muslim authorities view the presence of Jewish worshippers and Israeli police as a provocation and accuse Jewish extremists of plotting to take over the site.
There were no reports of arrests or injuries. The site was closed for three hours during the standoff but then re-opened for visitors.