Some 50 Palestinians were wounded in overnight clashes with Israeli police near a Jerusalem site holy to Jews and Muslims, with 15 hit by rubber bullets, the Red Crescent reported on

The rioting was sparked by new security measures introduced over the weekend by the Israelis after police were attacked at the site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Jerusalem Grand Mufti Mohammed Ahmed Hussein criticized the new measures - which include metal detectors and turnstiles at the entrance to the site - as altering the status quo.

The Palestinians fear Israel is trying to retake control of the site by stealth. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed on Friday that he did not want to alter the status quo, which gives Muslims religious control over the site and permits Jews to visit but not pray there.

On Friday, two Israeli police officers were killed and another injured after three men opened fire on security officers working at the site. The attackers, believed to be Israeli Arabs, were also killed. Israel then closed off the area, preventing Friday prayers at the al-Aqsa Mosque.