Israeli police have arrested 18 Palestinians in the grounds of Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque complex after tourists visiting the site under police escort were stoned, police said.
“Stones were thrown at tourists and police officers. We have made 18 arrests in all of people suspected of involvement,” spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP, adding that calm was restored.
Nasser Kos, a resident of Jerusalem’s Old City who witnessed the incident, said a group of Christian tourists entered the compound. Among them, Palestinians spotted religious Jews and began hurling stones at police, he said.
Police used tear gas to disperse the Palestinians, none of whom was hurt, Kos said.
Rosenfeld said one policeman was lightly injured by a stone that hit him on the head, and he was treated at the scene.
A Palestinian protest was staged a week ago at the site, revered by Jews as the site of their biblical Jewish temple, when a group of Jewish nationalist hardliners attempted to visit it but were prevented by police from doing so.
The Al-Aqsa compound, known to Jews as Temple Mount, is home to the third-most sacred place in Islam. It is venerated by Jews as their holiest site, where King Herod’s temple once stood before it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.