Israeli Police storm Jerusalem holy disperse to quell Palestinian demonstrators

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Israel police storm holy site to quell rioters

JERUSALEM — Israeli police forces stormed a Jerusalem holy site on Sunday to disperse Palestinian protesters hurling rocks at visitors.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police dispersed some 20 masked protesters who were holed up inside the holy compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

There were no injuries and no arrests were made, Rosenfeld said and calm had been restored and some thousand tourists had since visited the site.

According to the Old Testament, King Solomon built the first Jewish Temple on the site. The compound now houses the al-Aqsa mosque. Conflicting claims to the plateau lie at the heart of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Jews revere it as the site of their two biblical Temples and Muslims regard it as Islam’s third-holiest site where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

The compound has been a frequent flashpoint for conflicts before with even low-level scuffles spiraling into drawn-out battles. A visit to the site in 2000 by Ariel Sharon, then an Israeli opposition leader and later prime minister, helped ignite deadly clashes that escalated into violence that engulfed Israel and the Palestinian territories for several years.

Israel has controlled the compound since capturing east Jerusalem in 1967 and insists it will retain it forever, though it has left day-to-day administration to a Muslim clerical body.

Palestinians see east Jerusalem, including the Old City where the sacred complex lies, as the capital of a future state.

Tensions have been high in recent days following the Israeli government’s announcement that two West Bank shrines would be added to Israel’s list of national heritage sites. Palestinians regarded the move as a provocation.

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