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Israeli police ban access to Jerusalem holy site for non-Muslims

Israeli police have banned non-Muslims from a contentious Jerusalem holy site until the end of Ramadan following repeated clashes with Palestinians rioters.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said rocks and other objects were hurled towards police forces and Jewish worshippers in a square near the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

He said a 73-year-old woman suffered minor injuries and police arrested 16 suspects in the disturbances.

As a result, police decided to close access to Jewish worshippers and other visitors for the remainder of the week to prevent tensions with Muslims until the holy month of Ramadan is over.

Throughout the week, Palestinians had holed themselves up in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and attacked officers with fireworks and other objects they had stockpiled inside.

The mosque is part of a compound sacred to both Muslims and Jews. Muslims refer to it as the Noble Sanctuary, where they believe the Prophet Muhammad embarked on a night journey to heaven, while Jews refer to it as the Temple Mount, where the two Jewish temples stood in biblical times.

Violence had erupted at the site in mid-September before spreading elsewhere.

Since then Palestinians have carried out dozens of attacks, including stabbings, shootings and car ramming assaults, killing 32 Israelis and two visiting Americans.

About 200 Palestinians have been killed during that time, most identified as attackers by Israel.

The unrest has led to renewed calls for peace talks, which last broke down more than two years ago.


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu that while he understands Israel's security concerns, any measures it takes will not "solve the underlying causes of the cycles of violence" that have plagued the region.

Speaking in Jerusalem alongside Mr Netanyahu, Mr Ban said: "I encourage you to take the courageous steps necessary to prevent a one-state reality of perpetual conflict that is incompatible with realising the national aspirations of Israeli and Palestinian people."

Mr Netanyahu asked Mr Ban to use his final six months in office to rectify what he called the United Nations' unfair treatment of Israel. He singled out the UN Human Rights Council, which he said always condemns Israel, the "country that does more to promote and protect human rights and liberal values than any other in the blood-soaked Middle East".

He added: "Our progressive democracy has faced more country specific resolutions, more country specific condemnation, at the UN Human Rights Council than all the other countries combined.

"I believe that this is a profound betrayal of the United Nation's noble mandate."


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