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Israel clashes with protestors near Muslim holy site
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2007-02-10 15:03

Israeli police raided the al-Aqsa Mosque compound and hurled stun grenades at Muslims protesting there at midday Friday, and several were injured and arrested.

According to Israel Radio, 4,000 Muslim worshippers gathered at al-Aqsa Mosque compound for Friday prayers on the day and the clashes broke out after demonstrators threw stones at the Western Wall area below.

Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported on its website that at the end of the prayers at the mosque, worshipers started to throw stones at the police officers.

Large police forces then broke into the complex and threw stun grenades, said the report, adding that several officers were lightly injured and the Jewish worshipers were evacuated from the Western Wall Plaza.

Meanwhile, the pan-Arab al-Jazeera TV channel also reported that several protesters were injured and arrested outside the al-Aqsa Mosque.

The clashes came after the Israeli Antiquities Authority on Tuesday began a salvage excavation in the Jerusalem Archeological Park, sitting beneath the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, for the purpose of erecting supporting pillars for a permanent and safe bridge leading to the entrance of the compound.

The compound, where al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock is located, is referred to by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as al-Haramal-Sherif, the Noble Sanctuary.

The al-Aqsa Mosque is Islam's third holiest shrine and has been a focus for Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the past.

Although Israel said the excavations will impose no threat to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Muslims, Arab countries across the Middle East have condemned such move and expressed their concern that the excavation could undermine the peace efforts in the region.

Earlier Friday, in light of growing tensions, Israeli police has increased security levels throughout the country, particularly in Jerusalem.

In a meeting held by Israeli Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi on Thursday, it was decided to increase the alert level with over 2,000 police officers to be stationed throughout the old city of Jerusalem ahead of the Friday noon prayers, Yedioth Ahronoth reported earlier in the day.

Only men over 45 years old in possession of Israeli IDs will be allowed entrance to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, said Yedioth Ahronoth, adding that in a further attempt to calm tensions, the excavations will not continue on Friday or Saturday.

Source:Xinhuanet 
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