A riot ensued in Jerusalem on Wednesday this week after visitors entered the religious compound known to the Jews as the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism.
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The compound is also the third holiest site of Islam.
The Jews consider the compound to be the place where two biblical temples stood. For the Muslims, it is the place where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. Israel conquered the area and the rest of East Jerusalem during the 1967 war.
Aware of the religious differences, the Israeli government prohibits Jews from praying at the compound. But a few Orthodox Jews have demanded to pray there.
Palestinian protesters started throwing rocks and firecrackers at the Israeli police who were escorting the visitors. The police fought back with tear gas and stun guns.
According to Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, they used non-lethal weapons to curb the protests. He added that it took them 30 minutes to disperse the protesters. The Palestinian news agency, WAFA, reported that 25 people were injured. But Rosenfeld said that the numbers are exaggerated.
“The reports of multiple injuries are a gross exaggeration. Police used maximum restraint throughout the riot to disperse the crowd,” he told the Jerusalem Post.
The compound was closed temporarily on Wednesday. The site has witnessed numerous conflicts in the past. During this time of the year, Jews would flock to the Western Wall to celebrate the Passover festival.
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