Just one hour after thousands of Palestinian worshipers entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem for the first time in nearly two weeks, clashes erupted inside the holy site, as Israeli forces fired tar gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at worshipers.
The Palestinian Red Crescent released a statement saying that its crews had provided at least 37 worshipers with medical care. According to the group, some worshipers were treated for rubber-coated steel bullet injuries and tear gas inhalation, while others were physically assaulted and pepper sprayed by Israeli forces.
As clashes took place inside the compound, Israeli forces closed the Remission Gate (Bab al-Hutta) entrance to the compound, which was the last gate to be opened to the compound Thursday afternoon before thousands of worshipers poured in for afternoon Asr prayers.
Israeli soldiers also took down the Palestinian flags that worshipers had raised at the top of Al-Aqsa Mosque in celebration when they entered the compound.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement that “after thousands of people entered the Temple Mount this afternoon,” referring to the Israeli term for the Al-Aqsa compound, “stones were thrown at police units.”
Rosenfeld said that “a number of stones thrown at the Western Wall,” and that “(Israeli) police units cleared the area to prevent injuries,” adding that “a number of (Palestinian) flags were taken down.”
Israeli police units remained in the area, according to Rosenfeld, who said the situation was “under control” and that Israeli forces were “ready to respond to any incidents or riots.”[Source: Ma’an News agency]