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Israeli forces open fire at Al-Aqsa mosque worshippers Open in fullscreen

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Israeli forces open fire at Al-Aqsa mosque worshippers

Israeli forces fire tear gas at Palestinians in Al-Aqsa [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 July, 2018

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Videos on social media showed Israeli police storming Al-Aqsa mosque, firing tear gas, live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets at worshippers.
Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Friday, firing tear gas and closing the gates to the flashpoint religious site following midday prayers. 

Masked Palestinian youth also set off fireworks in the direction of Israeli police, but it's not immediately clear if police stormed the mosque before or after the fireworks. Israeli police say they entered the compound in response to the fireworks.

Videos circulated on social media also showed Israeli police shooting live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets. 

The Waqf, the religious authority that runs the mosque, confirmed the gates to Al-Aqsa were closed. Israeli police did not immediately comment.

Entry into and out of the mosque, which is Islam's third holiest site, was banned, an AFP photographer at the scene said.

The site, which includes the Dome of the Rock, is adjacent to the Western Wall, the most sacred site where Jews are currently allowed to pray. 

Custodianship of the Al-Aqsa Compound - or Temple Mount as it is known to Israelis - is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Palestinians fearing Israel may one day seek to assert further control over the holy site.

In July 2017, tens of thousands of Palestinians prayed outside the mosque for weeks after Israel installed metal detectors after an attack. 

Al-Aqsa is located in East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

The storming of Al-Aqsa on Friday comes the same day Israel's Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced 400 new housing units in the Adam settlement, north of Jerusalem, in response to a fatal stabbing of an Israeli by a Palestinian teen.

Israeli armed forces have shot and killed at least 150 Palestinians in 2018, the majority during protests in the Gaza Strip.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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