Palestinians display rubber bullets and stun grenades used by Israeli riot police inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam's third most holy site
Palestinians display rubber bullets and stun grenades used by Israeli riot police inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam's third most holy siteAFP

Israeli police has barred Palestinians under the age of 60 from entering the al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem after days of violent clashes.

Muslim worshippers who tried to enter the compound, which is known as Haram al-Sharif among them and Temple Mount to Jews, were turned away by Israeli officers, who used stun grenades to disperse them.

Al-Aqsa is Islam's third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina. It is the place where, according to the Muslim faith, Muhammad ascended to heaven. Temple Mount is considered the holiest site for Jews, as it is the place where God chose the Divine Presence to rest.

Clashes started when police allowed Israeli right-wingers and ultra-Orthodox Jews to enter the compound to observe the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, or the feast of the Tabernacles.

According to mainstream Judaism, Jews are forbidden from entering Temple Mount for fear they would stumble upon and profane the "Holy of Holies," or the inner sanctum of the Second Temple. This is also why the chief rabbinate has always opposed Jewish worship in the compound.

But Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu accused Palestinian extremists of causing troubles at the site.

"Israel is committed to maintaining the status quo exactly as it's been for many decades," he said in the presence of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who was visiting country. "What we're seeing is Palestinian extremists who are instigating violence through incitement."

Ban said he was "deeply concerned by repeated provocations at the holy sites in Jerusalem," which "inflame tensions and must stop".

The Haram al-Sharif site has been administered by an Islamic Waqf (trust), under the authority of Jordan, since the crusades.

Last year, Arab-Israeli Members of the Knesset were expelled from a parliamentary meeting to discuss plans for the Haram al-Sharif. They were protesting against what they perceived as a desecration of the site, which was stormed several times by Jewish extremists.