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UPDATED: 10:34, February 10, 2007
Riots in Jerusalem escalating as heavy smoke seen rising near Old City
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Riots between Israeli police and Palestinian worshippers in Old City of Jerusalem is escalating on Friday.

A Xinhua photographer at the scene reported that Palestinians in the Arab quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem is burning tires and rubbish in the street, spreading heavy smoke in the area.

Furthermore, the residents in the quarter is hurling stones at the Israeli police from their houses while the police responded by throwing stun grenades and tear gas.

Earlier, police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told Xinhua that 17 Palestinians were arrested as riots are still going on in Jerusalem.

Clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians erupted earlier in the day when some 4,000 Muslim worshippers gathered at al-Aqsa Mosque compound for Friday prayers, Israel Radio reported.

Israeli police raided the al-Aqsa Mosque compound and hurled stun grenades at Muslims protesting there after demonstrators threw stones at the Western Wall area, the report said.

The Israeli Antiquities Authority on Tuesday began a salvage excavation in the Jerusalem Archeological Park, sitting beneath the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, for the purpose of erecting supporting pillars for a permanent and safe bridge leading to the entrance of the compound.

Although Israel said the excavations will not impose threat to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Muslims, Arab countries in the Middle East condemned Israel's move and expressed their concern that the excavation could undermine the peace efforts in the region.

Source: Xinhua

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