Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denounced the clashes that have flared up at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, after Israeli security forces stormed the third holiest site in Islam.
According to the ministry, Israel forces stormed the courtyard after dawn prayers and attacked worshippers using tear gas, calling it an “unacceptable escalation against holy Islamic sites” in the Palestinian territories.
Egypt said that the “continued violation of religious sanctities, fuels the feelings of anger and undermines negotiations” and called on Israel to respect religious sanctities.
Palestinian witnesses told press that police caused damage as they entered the mosque, closing its doors to lock in rioters throwing stones, fireworks and other objects.
Israeli authorities said that rioters had barricaded themselves in the compound and were attempting to disrupt Jewish worshippers visiting the site, which is also revered in Judaism, ahead of Sunday evening’s New Year celebrations.
Reports had suggested that the country’s agriculture minister had also entered the complex.
Similar clashes took place at the end of July.
Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon last week outlawed two groups that it says confronts Jewish visitors to the compound, as part of a tactic of further aggression.
Muslims in the compound accused police of damaging the area, barricading the entrances and forcing worshippers to pray outside. Local Muslims have said to press that they fear Israel is attempting to change rules governing the site and the establishment of a new Jewish temple.
Israel seized east Jerusalem, the area where Al-Aqsa is located, in the Six Day War of 1967, and later annexed the territory, a move that has not been recognised internationally.