JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Several Palestinians were injured, at least one seriously, when they clashed with police near Jerusalem’s Noble Sanctuary-Temple Mount compound after Muslim evening prayers on Tuesday, according to Palestinian medical officials.
A hospital official said one man had suffered a serious head wound from a rubber bullet fired from close range but an Israeli police spokesman denied that rubber bullets had been used. A senior Muslim cleric was also hurt, witnesses said.
Tensions have increased around the compound, which is holy to Muslims and Jews, since three Arab-Israeli gunmen shot dead two Israeli policemen outside the complex on Friday in one of the most serious attacks in the area in years.
The assailants were killed by security forces and Israeli authorities briefly closed the compound.
When it was reopened on Sunday, metal detectors had been installed, to the anger of Muslim religious authorities. Israeli officials said they were a permanent measure but many worshippers refused to go through them and preferred to pray outside the compound.
The Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service said at least 14 people had been injured in Tuesday’s violence. A video clip posted on social media from the scene showed people running away from a melee and loud popping sounds.
Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said that, after prayers ended, some of the dozens of worshippers had started throwing rocks and bottles at police officers, and dispersal means were used. Two officers were lightly hurt, she said.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police who regularly patrol Jerusalem’s Old City use stun grenades in clashes, but are not routinely armed with rubber bullets.
Reporting by Ammar Awad; Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Kevin Liffey