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Fresh clashes break out at al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem

Xinhua, September 27, 2015 Adjust font size:

Israeli forces stormed al-Aqsa mosque compound on Sunday morning, firing rubber-coated bullets at "rioters" amid fresh clashes at the flashpoint site, police said.

A police spokesperson said masked Palestinian youths "threw stones and firecrackers at police and Border Police forces" who responded with "riot dispersal means."

Israel Radio reported that the police also used rubber-coated bullets to push people back into the mosque.

The situation was currently "under control," the spokesperson said.

Tensions in and around the holy compound have been running high in recent weeks while Jews marking their High Holidays. Sunday was also the last day of the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Al-Aqsa compound is the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site for Jews who know it as the Temple Mount and revere it as the site of their second temple, which was destroyed in 70 AD.

Israel's Ynet news reported that dozens of Mourabitoun, a group of Palestinian Muslims who guard the compound, barricaded themselves at the site on Saturday night, intending to prevent the entry of far-right Jewish activists who announced they will break into the compound on Sunday morning and hold prayers there.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said all Muslim residents of East Jerusalem would be allowed full access to the site and the entrance of Jews will be restricted to avoid clashes.

Visits to the site by Israeli far-right activists have been on the rise, as part of their struggle to cancel a long-held ban on Jewish prayers there. Palestinians say Israel is violating a status quo agreement from 1967, which allow Jews to visit the site but prohibit them to pray.

Israel has objected such visits, fearing its potential to incite violence at the volatile compound, but the government has changed its mind recently amid pressure from right-wing leaders. Endit