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24 Feb, 2012 14:58

Between a rock and a holy place: Palestinians pelt Christian tourists (VIDEO)

Police have used stun grenades and tear gas against Palestinians who were throwing stones at tourists visiting the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest Islamic site. Twenty-six people were wounded in the clashes.

Eleven policemen and 15 Palestinians are among the injured. Eighteen Palestinians were arrested by Israeli police as a result of the incident. On Friday dozens of masked Palestinians barricaded themselves inside the Al-Aqsa mosque and threw stones at the Maghrebi Gate – the only entrance to the compound which can be used by non-Muslims. The holy compound is known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. More people were attacking from inside the Dome of Rock in Jerusalem’s Old City, opposite the Al-Aqsa mosque. Police were deploying tear gas and flashbangs on the rioters, both inside and outside the compounds. Hundreds of Muslim worshipers gathered outside the mosque. Some began attacking Israeli security forces. They stormed in the Dome of the Rock mosque trying to get Palestinians to stop the attack, asking Israelis not to fight back and let people out.“We were praying when they started shooting tear gas towards us,” 58-year-old Umm Mohammad told AFP by telephone from inside the Dome of the Rock. “At first, they were shooting at the Al-Aqsa mosque, but we hid in the Dome of the Rock, and now they have started firing tear gas and sound bombs towards the gates,” she said. The plaza is one of the most troubled places in the Middle East It is considered to be the third-holiest site in Islam, and Judaism’s most sacred site.On Tuesday, two Palestinians were arrested at the same site for stone throwing. On Thursday, seven were detained for insulting a group of Jews touring the area.Earlier Israeli authorities announced Bab El-Magharbeh (Dung Gate) bridge to the Al-Aqsa mosque is in danger of collapsing and needs to be demolished. But the demolition was postponed amid fears of protests by Palestinians.