JERUSALEM - At least five people were slightly injured and a Palestinian was arrested yesterday when Israeli police confronted Palestinians throwing rocks at Jews at one of Jerusalem's holiest sites.
The flare-up took place at the Temple Mount, revered by Jews as the site of the two Jewish temples destroyed in ancient times. The spot is sacred to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, which contains Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
While the disturbance was relatively minor, it took place at a site that has often been a tinderbox in a city whose status remains one of the most complex and delicate issues between Israelis and Palestinians.
The mount is considered the place where the second intifada began in 2000, after a visit by opposition leader Ariel Sharon, now Israel's prime minister.
Yesterday's confrontation took on added significance because it fell on Jerusalem Day, a national holiday marking Israel's capture of East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war.
The incident began when Palestinians threw stones at a group of Jews and visitors who had gone up to the Temple Mount, according to Jerusalem's police chief, Ilan Franco. Two people were slightly injured. Police fired stun grenades and arrested a Palestinian stone-thrower, Franco said. Palestinian medics said three Palestinians were slightly injured.
When Islamic religious authorities agreed to try to enforce calm, the Israeli police withdrew, after facing down a group of Palestinians chanting slogans and waving green Islamic flags.
Israeli police sealed off the mosque for afternoon prayers to all but Muslims 45 or older.
While Israelis mark Jerusalem Day every year, national and religious passions have been intensified by Sharon's plan to withdraw Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip. Right-wing groups are using the occasion to emphasize Israel's claim to all of Jerusalem and to voice opposition to the pullout.
A group of 32 rabbis, mostly representing settlers, said Jews should go to the Temple Mount "because of this horrible disengagement, in view of the terrible plan."