JERUSALEM – Israeli police used stun grenades Sunday to disperse Palestinian rioters at a volatile Jerusalem site holy to Jews and Muslims, police said.
The incident took place during a visit by a Jewish group to the compound in Jerusalem's Old City known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. Deadly violence has erupted there several times in the past.
Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said around 150 Palestinians threw stones at the Jews visiting the site, which is open to non-Muslims at certain hours.
Jews regularly visit the compound and it was not immediately clear what sparked the violence.
Police dispersed the rioters using stun grenades, and two policemen were lightly injured. Sunday's incident ended without serious injuries.
Rabah Bkirat, an official with the Muslim religious body in charge of managing the site, said some of the protesters had come because of rumors of an "invasion" by Jewish settlers. When a group of some 15 Jews entered the grounds accompanied by police, the protesters began chanting slogans and only threw stones after police used force, he said.
Eleven Palestinians sustained minor injuries in the clashes, Bkirat said.
Religious and nationalist sentiment connected with the site have made it a flashpoint for violence in the past. A visit in 2000 by Ariel Sharon, then an Israeli opposition leader, helped ignite violence that engulfed Israel and the Palestinian territories for several years.
Jews venerate the Temple Mount as the location of two biblical Temples and consider it their holiest site. Jews pray at the foot of the compound at one of its supporting walls, known as the Western Wall.
Sunday's violence did not affect prayers at the Western Wall ahead of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar and starts at sundown.
The compound is home to the gold-capped Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque, and Muslims see it as their religion's third-holiest site after the Saudi Arabian holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
The site has been under Israeli control since 1967, but is administered by a Muslim religious body known as the Waqf.