JERUSALEM – Israeli police on Wednesday dispersed dozens of masked Palestinians who threw rocks and firecrackers at the officers near a contested holy site in Jerusalem's Old City, angered by a planned visit to the area by Israeli supporters of a right-wing activist.
The Israelis had planned to visit the site to commemorate a week since a Palestinian shot and wounded American-Israeli activist Yehuda Glick who has campaigned for more Jewish access to the location. Palestinians view such visits as a provocation and often respond violently.
Several police officers were hurt in the clashes, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, adding that the police used stun grenades to disperse the Palestinians. Quiet was soon restored, he said.
There was no immediate comment from Palestinian officials on Wednesday's incident.
Palestinian protesters and Israeli police have clashed almost daily in east Jerusalem in recent months, with much of the unrest focused around a sacred compound revered by both Jews and Muslims. It's the holiest site for Jews, who call it the Temple Mount because of the revered Jewish Temples that stood there in biblical times. Muslims refer to it as the Noble Sanctuary, and it is their third holiest site, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
Israel captured east Jerusalem — with its sites sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians — from Jordan in the 1967 war. Palestinians demand the territory for their future capital. The fate of the area is an emotional issue for Jews and Muslims and its future lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Glick, a leading voice in a campaign to expand Jewish prayer rights on the hilltop complex, was wounded a week ago when a Palestinian gunman on a motorcycle opened fire at him as he left a conference in Jerusalem.
Muslim worshippers view Jewish prayer at the site as a provocation, and Israeli authorities place tough restrictions on it. Everyone visiting the area from the Israeli side has to be screened by police.
East Jerusalem has experienced unrest since the summer, with Palestinian youths throwing stones and firebombs at motorists and clashing frequently with Israeli police. The violence gained steam last month, when a Palestinian motorist rammed his car into a crowded train station, killing a 3-month-old Israeli-American girl and a woman from Ecuador.