Dozens of Israeli police forces broke into the Al Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, leading to violent clashes between Palestinian worshippers and protesters on one side, and fully armed Israeli police forces on another.
The clashes came hours before the start of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. Witnesses told local Palestinian sources that the Israeli forces stormed into the compound through the Chain and Moroccan gates, shortly after dawn prayer.
Palestinians reportedly threw stones and fireworks at Israeli police, Israel's Ynet news reported. Palestinian media claimed that the Israeli police locked the compound with steel chains and attacked Palestinians with rubber bullets and pepper spray.
The Al Aqsa compound has been a source of religious and political tension for decades between Israel and Palestine, as well as a frequent flashpoint for violence. Similar clashes took place at the end of July.
Isreali Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, said that the operation, which entailed breaking into the holy mosque in the early morning was aimed at preventing riots. “Police units on Temple Mount area early morning to prevent riots by Arabs,” said Rosenfeld on twitter.
Police units on Temple Mount area early morning to prevent riots by Arabs. No injuries. Regular visits continuing. pic.twitter.com/JVgSrDOXz3
— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) September 13, 2015
According to the BBC, Israeli Police said that they were pursuing Palestinians who had barricaded themselves inside the compound and responded by throwing rocks and fireworks.
Israeli police alleges the barricaded Palestinians have hidden explosive devices in East Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that the site is now open to Jews wanting to visit for Rosh Hashanah’s new year celebration.
Rosh Hashanah begins at sunset on Sunday and continues until Tuesday evening.
No inuries or casualties were reported by Israeli forces, however Palestinian witnesses reported several injuries. Along with an AFP journalist who saw a number of people being detained and heavy police deployments in the Old City.
A young Palestinian boy named Anas Siyam was evacuated from the Al Aqsa compound to the hospital after he was hit with a rubber-coated bullet in the chest. His current condition is unknown.