Violence at holy sites in Jerusalem raises "grave concern"

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Street scene in the Old City of Jerusalem. Photo: UNESCO/Roni Amelan

The UN envoy to the Middle East has expressed "grave concern" over continuing violence in and around holy sites in Jerusalem.

Clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli police at Jerusalem's Al Aqsa mosque, revered by both Muslims and Jews, have continued for a third day.

Nikolay Mladenov, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, warned the Security Council that the violence could spread.

Maria Carlino reports.

Early Tuesday morning, Israeli police armed with stun grenades and tear gas clashed with rock-throwing Palestinian youth who barricaded themselves inside the Al Aqsa mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem. 

The clashes mark the third day of violence at the site which is sacred to both Muslims and Jews. 

In a statement to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, said the violence could have serious repercussions for the region. 

"As the Middle East faces a vicious tide of terror and extremism, such serious provocations have the potential to ignite violence well beyond the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. I urge all political, community and religious leaders to ensure that visitors and worshippers demonstrate restraint and respect for the sanctity of the area. All sides have a responsibility to refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric." 

Mr Mladenov said the historic status quo of the area must be preserved in line with agreements between Israel and Jordan. 

Clashes began after Israel severely restricted entry into the compound in late August and then fully banned members of Jewish and Muslim groups considered to be extremist.   

Maria Carlino, United Nations. 

Duration: 1’11″

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