Police clash with rioters in Umm al-Fahm as violence at Al-Aqsa Mosque spreads

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Police clashed late Wednesday with residents of Israel’s northern Arab city of Umm al-Fahm following violent tensions at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The riot came when clashes erupted at the mosque for the second straight night and Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired rockets again towards Israel, raising further concerns of a wider flareup.

In Umm al-Fahm, hundreds took part in a solidarity march for Al-Aqsa, when some rioters threw rocks at Route 65, according to police. The officers then moved to disperse the rally.

An undercover police unit was attacked at the scene after he was apparently exposed, and one of them fired his weapon in the air to help them escape, police said.

Images from Umm al-Fahm showed rioters burning tires in the streets.

Police later said five minors were arrested on suspicion of throwing rocks at officers.

Other disturbances were reported in the Israeli Arab communities of Baqa al-Gharbiya, Arraba, Reineh, Kafr Kanna and Kafr Manda, as well as in the West Bank.

Riots also broke out near the Gaza border fence, with Palestinians burning tires and throwing improvised explosive devices towards the border. IDF troops were working to disperse the riots at the border, according to Army Radio.

The violence came as fresh fighting broke out at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The footage showed police in riot gear trying to force their way into the site with those inside throwing things at them from inside.

“Dozens of young people who were breaking the law, some of the people who were masked, brought fireworks and stones into the mosque with the aim of disrupting public order in the area, and they were destroying the mosque,” a the police said in a statement.

Police said the Palestinians closed the doors to the mosque and prevented worshipers from leaving, barricading themselves inside.

“Police forces prevented the lawbreakers from closing the doors and barricading themselves inside, and helped the worshipers to leave the mosque,” the police said. “The rioters yelled provocations, set off fireworks, and threw objects at officers.”

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and is famous for being the site of the two ancient Jewish temples. The compound is Islam’s third holiest site and is managed by Jordan, as part of a sensitive arrangement with Israel.

Security officials feared an escalation due to the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, which often sees a spike in Israeli-Palestinian tensions, and this year coincides with Passover and Easter. Easter began on Wednesday evening. The first two weeks of Ramadan passed relatively smoothly, before the clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque late Tuesday and subsequent violence.

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