Israeli forces fired rubber bullets, stun grenades at unarmed Palestinians
Israeli police fired stun grenades at Palestinian worshippers in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound Friday, two weeks after similar unrest at the sensitive religious site triggered deadly hostilities in Gaza.
AFP reporters said Israeli forces fired rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades at unarmed Palestinians, including into a group of men standing around talking, one with a prayer mat slung over his shoulder.
Some youths responded by lobbing stones.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said 21 people were hurt in the Al-Aqsa clashes, including two who were hospitalised.
The Palestinian presidency in a statement condemned the “Israeli occupation forces storming Al-Aqsa mosque after Friday prayers and their assault on worshippers”.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said “riots broke out” at the Al-Aqsa compound, which is Islam’s third holiest site and also revered by Jews as the Temple Mount.
“Hundreds of people threw rocks and petrol bombs at police officers who responded at the scene and began dispersing the rioters,” he said.
Relative calm then returned to the compound.
Days of unrest at Al-Aqsa during Islam’s holy fasting month of Ramazan led Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, to demand Israeli forces vacate the compound by 6 pm (1500 GMT) on May 10.
Hamas fired rockets at Israel when the deadline expired, prompting Israel to launch a devastating aerial bombardment campaign on the Gaza Strip.