Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque damaged during clash between protesters, police
Palestinian youths had barricaded themselves inside holy site ahead of Jewish New Year
Israeli police say they have restored calm around Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site after early-morning clashes with Palestinian protesters.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says police moved into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound at around 7 a.m. Sunday. He says police had received reports that the protesters were planning to disrupt visits to the area by Jewish worshippers. The clashes took place hours before the onset of the Jewish New Year.
Israeli police say the protesters threw rocks and firecrackers at police as they barricaded themselves inside the mosque. There were no reports of arrests or injuries, though Rosenfeld says police may arrest protesters when they exit the building. The site was opened to visitors.
The hilltop compound is revered by both Jews and Muslims and is a frequent flashpoint of violence.
Police used tear gas and threw stun grenades toward Palestinian youths, who barricaded themselves inside the mosque and hurled rocks and flares, a Reuters witness said.
Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, in a statement, said the Palestinian youngsters also had pipe bombs.
Al-Aqsa official Radwan Amr said 32 of the mosque's windows were completely or partially destroyed, a door was shattered and the carpet burned in 12 places.
The Palestinian youths, Israeli police said in a statement, had intended to disrupt the routine of visits to the compound on the eve of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which
begins at sunset on Sunday.
"A police force ... surprised the barricaded youngsters and entered the Temple Mount area" so that the visits could get under way, the statement said.
Jewish ultranationalists have been pushing the Israeli government to allow Jewish prayer on the compound outside al-Aqsa, which stands above Judaism's Western Wall.