America stresses importance of status quo at Jerusalem holy sites

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed recent violence in Israel and the West Bank with his Jordanian counterpart and stressed the importance of maintaining the status quo at Jerusalem holy sites, the State Department said in a statement on Tuesday.

On Friday, at least 152 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli riot police inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the latest outbreak in an upsurge of violence that has raised fears of a slide back to wider conflict.

Israel shot down a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Monday, the Israeli military said, the first such attack in months as tensions over a flashpoint Jerusalem shrine drew angry pro-Palestinian rhetoric from Jordan and U.S. mediation efforts.

No Gaza faction claimed responsibility for the launch, which followed warnings by the dominant Hamas Islamists of reprisals for Israeli conduct around Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa mosque compound.

Within hours, Israeli air strikes hit camps used by Hamas and another Gaza faction, Palestinian sources said. The military said one target was an arms manufacturing site. No one was hurt.

Since Friday, Al Aqsa – also revered by Jews as a vestige of two ancient temples – has seen confrontations between Palestinian stone-throwers and Israeli riot police recalling violence that helped fan a Gaza war one year ago.

Palestinians accuse Israel of encroaching at Al Aqsa during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Israel says Palestinian protesters seek to disrupt Muslim prayer for political ends and to prevent visits by Jews, who are now celebrating Passover.

via Reuters

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