JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel Police reopened the Temple Mount to Muslim worshippers hours after closing it due to clashes between Arab worshippers and security officials.
Young Muslims wearing masks set off firecrackers and threw rocks at police patrolling the Temple Mount after Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque, according to police. The rioters then barricaded themselves in the mosque. In response, police in a rare move entered the mosque and arrested 16 of the Arab worshippers as well as another eight at the site. They also used stun grenades and smoke grenades to clear the entire site and closed it to visitors.
Four Israel Police officers were injured during the clashes.
The incident comes one year after Israel installed metal detectors at the Muslim entrance to the site after a terror attack on the Temple Mount by three Arab Israelis that left two Israel Police officers dead. Two weeks after the metal detectors were installed, leading Muslim worshippers to hold their prayer services at the entrance to the site, they were removed.
The firecrackers and rocks came as the worshippers held what the Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, told the official Palestinian WAFA news agency was a “peaceful march” to mark the occasion.
Following the closure of the Temple Mount on Friday, Muslim worshippers gathered outside of its gates for public afternoon and evening prayers in a demonstration reminiscent of last year’s.