About 12,000 worshipers came to the morning prayer, and hundreds of them turned against the police. Police officers were pelted with stones and fireworks, and allegedly responded to the violence with tear gas and rubber bullets. More than 150 Palestinians were injured, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Emergency Service, Israeli authorities say three officers were injured. A mosque spokesman said more than 80 Palestinians had been arrested.
Tens of thousands of Muslims were expected to offer prayers on Fridays during the month of Islamic fasting Ramadan. The Jewish Passover, which begins on Friday, also attracts many believers and visitors to Jerusalem. This week alone, the tourism ministry expects a total of 30,000 foreign tourists. Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam.
Last year, the mosque was also the scene of riots that began due to the eviction of Arabs from their homes in the neighborhood of East Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel.
The security situation in Israel has been very tense lately after four Palestinian attacks in which 14 Israelis were killed in the last two weeks. Israel fears that violence will flare up further during the month of Ramadan.