Jerusalem–Israeli police raided the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on Sunday in response to stone-throwing protests by Palestinians, an Israeli police spokesman said.
Shmuel Ben-Ruby said police entered the compound when about 20 Palestinians threw stones, but that the protesters had quickly taken cover inside the mosque.
Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot reported that at least eight Palestinian worshipers were injured after police fired teargas into the mosque complex, while Palestinian Maan news agency said that twelve Palestinians suffered tear-gas inhalation injuries.
Eye witnesses also said that a few hundred police officers are encircling the mosque complex and demanding that the dozens of Arab youth barricaded inside immediately evacuate the area.
Clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians have also been reported inside Jerusalem’s Old City, according to Yediot Ahranot.
Israeli police do not usually enter the area, other than in response to incidents. Police did not enter the mosque.
One protester was arrested as the rock-throwing protests spread to the alleyways of the old walled city, Ben-Ruby added.
Adnan al-Husseini, a Palestinian official in charge of Jerusalem, said Palestinian youths had spent the night at the mosque saying Jewish hardliners had threatened to enter the site.
Palestinians fear that Israel has been working hard over the past years to “Judaize” the holy city and change its Islamic identity.
The holy site has been a frequent flashpoint of violence in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Tensions have been on the rise in Jerusalem and Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory over stalled peace talks which haven’t convened since before a Gaza war in December 2008.