Israeli police clash with Palestinians at Al-Aqsa mosque

Israeli police fired tear-gas and stun grenades on Sunday to disperse some 150 Palestinians who began hurling stones as foreign tourists visited a sensitive religious site in the Old City.

Nine policemen were hurt, a police spokesman said, and doctors said 13 Palestinians were treated for injuries after the clash at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, a site revered by Muslims and Jews that has been a major faultine in the Middle East conflict.

Protesters threw stones and chairs as riot police rushed to the scene. Video showed them trying to drive police away from the doorway of the mosque, but there was no sign that police ever entered it during the clash.

One witness said police told him religious Palestinians at the holy site were angry over what they considered the immodest dress of some of the tourists, and grew violent after police ignored their complaints.

The disturbance occurred a few hours before the start of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, in the complex known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as al-Harm al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary).

Police restored calm and closed the complex, which is the size of a large city square. It includes al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, and the Dome of the Rock, above the Jewish prayer site at the Western Wall.

Jewish visitors require special permission from Israeli police to visit the site and usually do so under guard. Israel also restricts access by Palestinian Muslim men under 50.

Temple Mount is the most sacred site in Judaism. The gilded Dome of the Rock sits over the spot where Jews and Christians believe Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Isaac to God before an angel stayed his hand.

In Muslim tradition, Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven from the rock at the centre of what is now the Dome of the Rock. Al-Haram al-Sharif is the third holiest site for Muslims after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

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