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The skirmish left more than two dozen Palestinians injured, two seriously, after some Palestinian youths at the site started throwing rocks at police and setting off fireworks around 4 a.m., according to Israel’s Haaretz. The police responded with rubber bullets and stun grenades.
At least 27 were hurt, Haaretz reported, citing the Palestinian Red Crescent medical service.
Israeli police and Palestinians have frequently clashed at the site in the last week despite temporarily keeping Jews away for the last 10 days of Ramadan to avoid any provocation, which is a normal practice.
The incident came just hours after Israel targeted several Hamas sites Thursday morning following a rocket attack intercepted by Israel’s air defenses. Another rocket strike was launched toward Israel on Monday.
Nearly a year after the Israel-Palestinian 11-day war, tensions have heightened following a series of deadly attacks in Israel – including a shooting in Tel Aviv earlier this month in which a Palestinian opened fire at a bar, leaving three Israelis dead – and military operations in the occupied West Bank.
Al-Aqsa, known as the Temple Mount to Jews, has been connected to previous violent conflicts.
A longstanding prohibition on Jews praying at the site has eroded in recent years, fueling fears among Palestinians that Israel plans to take over the site or partition it. However, Israel says it’s committed to the status quo and has blamed Hamas for inciting violence.
Tens of thousands of Muslims are expected to pray at the site later Friday for weekly prayers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.