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More Than 100 Hurt In Jerusalem Clashes As Religious Festivals Overlap

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More than 100 people were wounded Friday in clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli police at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, in fresh violence as Jewish and Christian festivals overlap with Ramadan.

According to Israeli police, before dawn, “dozens of masked men” marched into Al-Aqsa chanting and setting off fireworks before crowds hurled stones towards the Western Wall — considered the holiest site where Jews can pray. 

A Palestinian Red Crescent official said 117 people were rushed to hospitals and “dozens of other injuries” were treated at the scene. Israeli police said three officers were hurt. The latest clashes come after three tense weeks of deadly violence in Israel and the occupied West Bank, and as the Jewish festival of Passover and Christian Easter overlap with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. 

Al-Aqsa is Islam’s third-holiest site. Jews refer to it as the Temple Mount, referencing two temples said to have stood there in antiquity.

Witnesses said Palestinian protesters threw stones at Israeli security forces, who fired rubber-coated bullets and sound grenades towards some of them.

An AFP photographer said more than 100 Palestinians were seen hurling projectiles towards the Israeli security forces. 

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Israeli police said that on Friday, dozens of masked men “marched into Al-Aqsa mosque at 04:00… chanting inciting messages and setting off fireworks” and collecting “stones, wooden planks and large objects, which were then used in a violent riot”.

“Despite these actions, police forces waited until the prayer was over,” a statement said. “Crowds then began to hurl rocks in the direction of the Western Wall… and as the violence surged, police were forced to enter the grounds surrounding the Mosque,” it said, adding police “did not enter the mosque.” The violence subsided later in the morning, AFP correspondents said. “We have no interest in the Temple Mount becoming a centre of violence, which will harm both the Muslim worshippers there and the Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall,” Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev said on Twitter. Before Ramadan began this month, Israel and Jordan stepped up talks in an effort to avoid a repeat of last year’s violence. Jordan serves as custodian of the mosque compound, while Israel controls access.

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