More than 150 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli police at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, Palestinian medics say.

Israeli police said officers entered the site after coming under attack with fireworks, stones and other objects.

Three Israeli police were hurt, they said.

The flashpoint site is deeply important to Muslims and Jews, who know it as the Temple Mount, and is at the heart of competing historical claims.

Israeli-Palestinian tensions have soared recently after deadly attacks in Israel and Palestinian deaths during subsequent Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank.

A 17-year-old Palestinian wounded on Thursday during an Israeli operation in the area of Jenin in the northern West Bank died on Friday, the Palestinian health ministry said.

More than 20 Palestinians, many identified as gunmen, have been killed since Israel stepped up sweeps in the West Bank, centring on Jenin district, after a Palestinian killed three Israelis in Tel Aviv last Thursday.

That attack was the fourth in Israel by Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in just over two weeks. The killings have left 12 Israelis and two Ukrainians dead, marking the deadliest period of attacks in Israel for more than 15 years and leaving the country on edge.

Israeli police said dozens of Palestinians, some carrying flags of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, marched on the compound at about 04:00 (01:00 GMT) then started throwing stones and fireworks.

The police said they waited until Muslim Friday prayers had ended before entering the site to disperse the rioters, who had started throwing stones towards the Western Wall below the compound, where Jewish worshippers were.


The police tweeted video showing fireworks exploding inside the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, and masked youths throwing stones towards officers.

Israel’s foreign ministry tweeted video showing masked Palestinians inside the Qibli mosque (also known as al-Aqsa Mosque) throwing objects with the sound of a bang followed by a spray of sparks.

The foreign ministry denied reports on social media that police had entered the mosque building itself during the violence. Hours later footage from inside the mosque building showed Israeli police and Palestinians there with the scene more calm.

Volatile time

The Palestinian foreign ministry condemned Israel’s actions at the compound, saying it held it “fully and directly responsible for this crime and its consequences”.

The clashes come after militant groups in Gaza called for “hundreds of thousands” of Palestinians to converge on the compound on Friday “to protect our nation and our mosque”.

Last year Hamas, which governs Gaza, fired rockets towards Jerusalem following clashes at the mosque compound after weeks of unrest in the city, triggering a devastating 11-day war with Israel.

The compound is known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and is also considered, in its entirety, as al-Aqsa Mosque. It is the third holiest site in Islam.

The same ground is sacred to Jews as the location of two biblical temples, and is the holiest site in Judaism. The question of rights there is one of the most contentious issues of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and between Israel and the wider Muslim world.

The recent surge in violence comes at a particularly volatile time, with the start of the Jewish festival of Passover on Friday night coinciding with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and the Christian festival of Easter.

Passover traditionally sees an increase in visits by religious Jews to the site, which are viewed by Palestinians as provocative.

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