Israeli Police Clash With Palestinians Near al-Aqsa Mosque

September 13, 2015

Updated at 3:25 p.m. ET

Israeli police clashed briefly with Palestinians near the religiously sensitive al-Aqsa mosque complex in East Jerusalem, but there were no reports of arrests.

Police said they entered the site to prevent riots after they received reports that protesters planned to “disrupt visits to the area by Jewish worshipers and tourists,” The Associated Press reports. The BBC says police reportedly used tear gas and flash-bang grenades as Palestinians threw rocks and fireworks.

The hilltop area is revered by Jews as the Temple Mount.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld was quoted by the AP as saying the protesters barricaded themselves inside the mosque: “He said police did not enter the mosque, but removed barricades around the building.” Suspected pipe bombs were found at the entrance to the mosque, a police spokeswoman, Luba Samri. said.

Rosenfeld said there were no injuries, but the BBC quotes other sources as saying a number of Palestinians were hurt.

As NPR’s Emily Harris reports: “This kind of clash happens periodically, but it got extra attention here today because of the timing, just hours before the start of the Jewish New Year – and because of rising tensions – Israel recently banned certain Palestinian groups it said were creating problems in the compound.”

Ma’an News Agency says: “The compound opened for visitors as scheduled at 8 a.m., and more than 30 right-wing Israelis toured the compound, including right-wing Israeli Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel, heavily escorted by Israeli forces.”

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