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Clashes erupt between Palestinians and occupation forces outside Al-Aqsa Mosque

Israeli special police units arrested on Thursday morning a young Palestinian resident of Jerusalem inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque and took him to an interrogation centre in the old city. Eyewitnesses reported that scuffles occurred between a group of Palestinian youth and occupation forces outside Bab Hetta, one of the gates to Al-Aqsa Mosque, when the police prevented them from entering the mosque. The forces are said to have used batons and pepper gas against the Palestinian youth, arresting one of them.

The eyewitnesses noted that the occupation forces have stepped up actions against the Al-Aqsa Mosque and kept only three of its gates open, pointing out that any worshiper who wishes to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque has to hand over his/her identity card to the Israeli police standing outside the gates.

Dozens of Palestinian young men spent last night in the mosque following the calls by Jewish settlers to break into the mosque's premises on Thursday and raise Israeli flags.

The Islamic Endowment (Waqf) in Jerusalem requested for the Israeli police to close the Maghrabi Gate on Thursday morning, which the settlers normally use to break into Al-Aqsa Mosque. The director of the Waqf, Azzam Al-Khatib, told the official Palestinian WAFA news agency that: "Israeli and Jordanian high level officials had been discussing since last night whether to close the door and prevent the settlers from breaking into the mosque." He continued: "I believe that Jewish extremists are escalating their actions against the mosque. They aspire to carry out their goals and destroy the mosque. But, we are determined to protect the mosque and to prevent the provocations against Muslims."

A state of high tension currently prevails within the mosque's premises and outside its gates, where dozens of Israeli forces are now spread. The Palestinians inside the Old City and in the mosque are also on watch to counter any attempts to attack the Palestinians or to execute the calls of Jewish extremist organisations to break into Al-Aqsa Mosque on Thursday.

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