Israeli police fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets at worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque grounds as hundreds of Jewish pilgrims marched there to celebrate a religious holiday.
Palestinians condemned Jewish tensions and pilgrimage on Sunday to the mosque’s highly sensitive complex in occupied East Jerusalem, Islam’s third holiest site, which is also known by Jews as the Temple Mount.
Israeli right-wing nationalist prime minister Naftali Bennett defended the state’s decision to allow Jews to visit the site.
According to Israeli police, early in the morning the Palestinians “began throwing stones at the Temple Mount esplanade toward police forces, who dispersed them.”
There were no official reports of arrests or injuries.
The EU delegation to the Palestinian territories in a tweet said it was “concerned about the ongoing tensions” and urged that there be no “acts of incitement”.
He also called for respect for the status quo of the place and urged Israeli, religious and community leaders to “urgently calm this explosive situation.”
The incident took place at the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’av, which marked the day of the year thousands of years ago when, according to tradition, the two Jewish temples located on the Temple Mount were destroyed.
The sacred site is located in East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied and annexed in 1967, but is administered by the Muslim organization Waqf which allows Jews limited access.
A spokesman for a Jewish group encouraging such visits told AFP news agency that 1,679 pilgrims were on the mosque grounds on Sunday morning and afternoon.
The Waqf condemned the “rapes and attacks” committed by “Jewish fanatical groups, with the support and political coverage of the Israeli government,” it said in a statement on the official Palestinian website Wafa, which stated that Israel was “pointing to a religious war “. ”.
The Palestinian Authority accused Israel of “altering the security and stability of the region” by allowing pilgrim “incursions”.
Newly appointed Prime Minister Bennett, who belongs to Israel’s religious right but leads a coalition that includes a left and a party of Palestinian citizens of Israel, said he had “instructed them to continue the organized visits. and safe from the Jews on the Temple Mount, keeping order in place ”.
In a second statement following the condemnations of Waqf and PA, Bennett stressed that “freedom of worship on the Temple Mount will also be fully preserved for Muslims,” noting the upcoming Eid al-Adha festival.
Two years ago, when the Jewish and Muslim holidays coincided, the violence at the site left dozens of Palestinians injured and resulted in seven arrests.