A Jerusalem riot led Israeli police to use tear gas and stun grenades on Wednesday to disperse a group of Palestinian Muslim worshippers who were protesting at a holy site they share with Jews and Christians.
The holy site is known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. Protestors used the al-Aqsa mosque as shelter to hurl stones at the Israeli security officers, according to Jerusalem Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
They barricaded themselves inside the mosque with whatever furniture they could find, The Associated Press reported
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Clashes between Muslims and Jews are reportedly fairly common at the shared holy compound, which is Judaism's holiest site and Islam's third-holiest site. While Jews primarily pray at the Western Wall, located below the Temple Mount, Muslims pray at the site itself. Israel does allow Jews to ascend to the Temple Mount for visits, but they are not permitted to pray at the site, the AP reported.
While Jerusalem police maintain law and order at the holy site, which Israel acquired from Jordan in the 1967 war, the Temple Mount is reportedly managed by the Islamic authority known as the Waqf.
Sheikh Azzam Tamimi, the head of the Waqf, defended the Muslim worshipper's actions by claiming that they were attempting to defend the site from Jewish groups who have been visiting the holy compound in larger numbers in recent years.
According to Tamimi, 30 Muslim protestors suffered injuries during the riot, most of which were either a result of being struck by rubber-coated bullets or inhaling tear gas. The injuries did not appear to be serious, the AP noted.
After the Muslim protestors were removed from the holy site, Israel closed access to the Temple Mount compound.
Jews believe the compound is the site where the two biblical Jewish Temples stood, where religious Jews pray a third Temple will one day be built. Muslims, meanwhile, believe the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven at the holy compound where the Dome of the Rock is situated.
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