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Israel shuts Jerusalem holy site after unrest

AFP  |  Jerusalem 

Unrest at a highly sensitive holy site led to shut off access to it on Tuesday after several weeks of tension at the location.

Police said they evacuated the mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, after a Molotov cocktail damaged a police post.

Video spread online of scuffles between police and Palestinians before the site was cleared.

More than 10 people were arrested, police said, including two minors allegedly linked to the firebomb attack who will be brought to a court for a remand hearing on Wednesday.

The reported two people hurt, while police said an suffered from smoke inhalation.

Police said they found a number of firecrackers and Molotov cocktails in searches of the site.

Residents said police were also restricting Palestinian access to Jerusalem's Old City, where the site is located.

Worshippers later prayed outside the locked gates of the site in protest. Jordan, the of the site, condemned its closure as "unacceptable".

later announced that the site would reopen "to worshippers and visitors" on Wednesday morning.

Abdul Nasser Abul al-Basal, Jordanian minister of Islamic affairs, told state-run Al-Mamlaka TV that the closure was an "attack on religious freedom".

The compound is the third-holiest site in Islam and a focus of Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

It is also the location of Judaism's most sacred spot, revered as the site of the two biblical-era Jewish temples.

Jews are allowed to visit but cannot pray there and it is a frequent scene of tension.

It is located in east Jerusalem, occupied by in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

Recent weeks have seen scuffles over a side building at the site known as the Golden Gate.

Palestinian worshippers have been entering the site despite an Israeli order that it should stay closed.

Access to the Golden Gate was closed in 2003 during the second Palestinian intifada over alleged militant activity there, police say.

Palestinian officials argue that the organisation that prompted the ban no longer exists and there is no reason for it to remain closed.

and are believed to be holding discussions to resolve the issue.

Police have filed a request with Israeli courts for an order to re-close the building, but the court has reportedly delayed any decision to allow for more negotiations.

There are concerns in that tensions at the site could boil over and become a political issue ahead of April 9 Israeli elections.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, March 12 2019. 23:55 IST