Fresh clashes break out at al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem

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A masked Palestinian youth throws stones towards Israeli security forces during clashes in the Palestinian refugee camp of Shuafat in east Jerusalem on September 18, 2015 (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
Palestinians and Israeli security forces clashed at Jerusalem\’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Sunday, with further trouble feared in the week ahead as Jews celebrate the Sukkot holiday.
 
After the brief clashes on what was the last day of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, Palestinian protesters prepared "to defend" the mosque during the eight-day Jewish festival, stocking stones inside the shrine and planning to sleep in it.
The Sukkot holiday which started at sunset is expected to lead to an increase in Jewish visitors to the Al-Aqsa compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
In Sunday\’s disturbances, young masked Palestinians "threw stones and fireworks at police and border police forces," who responded with "riot dispersal means", police said.
Calm returned to the compound later in the morning and most police were withdrawn, an AFP journalist reported.
Muslims have been alarmed by an increase in visits by Jews and fear rules governing the compound will be changed.
 
Al-Aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam, is also the most sacred place in Judaism. Jews are allowed to visit but not to pray to avoid provoking tensions.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said repeatedly he is committed to maintaining the status quo at the site despite the views of some hardliners within his governing coalition.
Visits by Jews were stopped on Sunday and age restrictions on Muslim men entering the compound lifted for the Muslim holiday. But a ban on under-50s was re-imposed as Sukkot started.
Recent weeks have seen a series of Jewish holidays during which there has an been an uptick in visits by Jews that have sparked repeated clashes. The same situation is feared over Sukkot.
SOURCE: AFP

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