JERUSALEM - Israeli police used stun grenades yesterday to disperse Palestinian rioters at a volatile Jerusalem site holy to Jews and Muslims, police said.
The incident took place during a visit by a Jewish group to the compound in Jerusalem’s Old City known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. Deadly violence has erupted there in the past.
Shmuel Ben-Ruby, police spokesman, said some 150 Palestinians threw stones at the Jews visiting the site, which is open to non-Muslims at certain hours. Jews regularly visit the compound, and it was not clear what sparked the violence.
The Jewish Day of Atonement started at sundown yesterday. This year Yom Kippur is occurring at a particularly somber time after revelations of a previously hidden Iranian nuclear facility and more missile tests by the Revolutionary Guard.
Police dispersed the Jerusalem rioters using stun grenades, and two police officers were slightly injured. Two protesters were also slightly hurt before police restored order, Ben-Ruby said. The incident ended without serious injuries.
Religious and nationalist sentiment connected with the site has made it a flash point for violence in the past. A visit in 2000 by Ariel Sharon, then an Israeli opposition leader, helped ignite violence that engulfed Israel and the Palestinian territories for several years.
Jews venerate the Temple Mount as the location of two Biblical Temples and consider it their holiest site. Jews pray at the foot of the compound at one of its supporting walls, known as the Western Wall.
The compound is home to the gold-capped Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque, and Muslims see it as their religion’s third-holiest site, after the Saudi Arabian holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
The site has been under Israeli control since 1967 but is administered by a Muslim religious body.