New clashes erupted Monday morning between Israeli police and Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, with locals fearing unrest over the eight-day Jewish festival of Sukkot, which began Sunday night, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Witnesses reportedly said Israeli police entered the compound early Monday and fought with the worshippers, who barricaded themselves inside the mosque, which is considered holy by both Muslims and Jews. Tensions flared at the site, which has seen days of violence, as far-right Jewish groups prepared to enter the mosque compound, Al Jazeera reported. Police fired stun grenades through windows at a small number of worshippers and approached the mosque's main gate using metal barricades to shield themselves, Al Jazeera reported, citing police.
Clashes also broke out Sunday as Palestinian protesters prepared to "defend" the mosque during Sukkot. Young masked Palestinians "threw stones and fireworks at police and border police forces," who responded with "riot dispersal means," authorities said, according to AFP.
Jews were stopped from visiting the site Sunday, which they call the Temple Mount. Since Israel conquered East Jerusalem in the 1967 war, Jews have been allowed to visit the compound, but refrained from praying there.
Muslims fear that Israeli officials will change the rules governing the mosque as Jewish groups pushed for more access to the compound.
The ongoing violence at the holy site has also grabbed international attention, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urging the U.N. to take action against Israel’s “breach.”
The U.S. State Department has also expressed concern about the clashes in the area. "We strongly condemn all acts of violence. It is absolutely critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric and preserve unchanged the historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount," State Department spokesman John Kirby reportedly said.
Last week, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, denounced Israel, saying it had exhibited the "ultimate degree of ruthlessness and evil" at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.