Israeli authorities announced yesterday they were closing Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound to non-Muslim visitors after a series of clashes between worshippers and police.
The decision will apply until the end of the holy month of Ramadan next week, a police spokeswoman said.
Clashes between Muslims and Israeli police have been taking place every morning since Sunday over Jewish visits to the site, with youths throwing stones and security forces firing tear gas and sponge-tipped bullets.
Prior to visiting hours yesterday, a stone hit an elderly Jewish woman in the head at the adjacent Western Wall plaza, police and medics said.
She was taken to hospital with light injuries.
Islamic officials accused Israeli authorities of breaking a tacit agreement on non-Muslim access to the site during the last 10 days of Ramadan.
The period, which began on Sunday, is the most solemn for Muslims and attracts the highest number of worshippers.
Non-Muslims, including Jews, are allowed to visit the site during set hours but are barred from praying to avoid provoking tensions.
Meanwhile, a Palestinian was shot and injured and dozens others suffocated during clashes with Israeli forces in Ash-Shuyukh and Sa’ir towns, northeast of Hebron yesterday.
Israeli forces raided the vicinity of a dispensary in Ash-Shuyukh and the Sair locality of Ras al-Arud in the southern West Bank, triggering clashes with local Palestinians, state news agency (WAFA) reported.
Soldiers opened live fire at local Palestinians who protested the raid, hitting and injuring a Palestinian young man with a live round in his foot. Dozens of local Palestinians suffocated as Israeli soldiers showered them with tear gas canisters.
This came as forces raided the Hebron neighbourhoods of Ras al-Jora, Ein Sara, al-Rameh, al-Kassara, Jabal Johar and the main fruit market, interrogating many locals and inspecting their ID cards.
A masked Palestinian protester wearing pieces of cloth around his body keeps watch following clashes with Israeli police at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound for the third consecutive day yesterday in Jerusalem’s Old City.