Middle East

Palestinian protesters, Israeli police clash at Jerusalem holy site

FILE: The Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall and the Mughrabi Gate entrance to the compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, and to Jews as Temple Mount, are seen in Jerusalem's Old City.

FILE: The Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall and the Mughrabi Gate entrance to the compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, and to Jews as Temple Mount, are seen in Jerusalem's Old City.  (REUTERS)

Palestinian demonstrators clashed with Israeli police at a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem on Wednesday, leaving three policemen lightly injured, a police spokeswoman said.

The clashes erupted after several dozen masked Palestinians began throwing rocks, fire crackers and other pyrotechnical devices at police when the site --  known to Jews as the `Temple Mount,' and to Muslims as the `Noble Sanctuary' --  opened for prayers on Wednesday morning, said the spokeswoman, Luba Samri.

There was no immediate information on whether anyone was hurt among the Palestinian protesters.

Police chased the demonstrators toward the Al-Aqsa mosque, where they barricaded themselves inside and continued hurling objects in the direction of the police, said Samri. She said that at least one Molotov cocktail was thrown at the police, but that it failed to ignite.

The site is the holiest in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam, and is a frequent flashpoint for demonstrations.

An Israeli Tourism Ministry decision earlier this week to expand the entrance to the site was condemned by Palestinian officials as a unilateral change in the status of the sensitive holy site.

Tensions have been high in Jerusalem since Hamas militants abducted and killed three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank in June and Jewish extremists killed a young Palestinian several weeks later, in an apparent revenge attack.

Those events helped precipitate the 50-day-long Gaza war that killed more than 2,100 Palestinians and 72 on the Israeli side, all but six soldiers. The war ended Aug. 26.