Police Clash With Hundreds Of Moslems At Temple Mount
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Riot police today fired tear gas and rubber bullets at hundreds of stone- throwing Palestinians following Moslem prayers at Al Aqsa mosque, one of Islam’s holiest shrines.
Clouds of tear gas rose from the complex at Temple Mount, a Palestinian national symbol as well as the site of the ancient Jewish Temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. A barrage of shots was heard several hundred yards away.
At least five police officers and three Palestinians were injured, said Jerusalem police commander Yosef Yehudai.
Austrian television cameraman Wolfgang Scheider was hit in the face with a rock and collapsed when a barrage of stones were hurled at a building from which reporters watched the prayers. Scheider was taken to a hospital.
Police said they arrested 37 Palestinians.
A similar protest occurred in the West Bank city of Hebron. Hundreds of worshipers chanting nationalist slogans stoned troops who opened fire. Four Palestinians were wounded, and the army clamped a curfew on the city.
The violence in Jerusalem came after 25,000 people attended noon prayers on the first day of Ramadan, Islam’s holy month of fasting and religious fervor. After prayers, police said 4,000 worshipers raised five outlawed Palestinian flags and burned two Israeli flags. They chanted ″Palestine is Moslem 3/8″ and ’Allahu Akbar 3/8″ which means God is great.
Two or three Palestinians threw stones at police, and one policeman responded with a shot in the air, Israel radio said.
″This shot led to the great confusion,″ said Israel radio reporter Moshe Nussbaum. ″Seconds after the shot was fired, we were barraged by stones.″
Police then entered the 35-acre complex, where several dozen demonstrators had locked themselves inside mosques to avoid arrest.
The clash spilled over to the nearby Western Wall, which lines one side of the mosque complex and which Jews revere as the last remnant of their temple. The area near the wall was littered with stones and devoid of Jewish worshipers who normally crowd the site.
Israeli officials say they fear an escalation of the Palestinian uprising during Ramadan. At least 419 Palestinians and 18 Israelis have been killed since the rebellion against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip began in December 1987.
The Al Aqsa complex includes the Dome of the Rock, which Moslems believe marks the spot where the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven.