Israeli police clashed with Muslims on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem after the compound was reopened to Christians and Jews.
Police kicked and beat some protesters with batons while Arab children threw stones at the officers.
Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat ordered the site closed to non-Muslim visitors when riots erupted between police and Muslim worshippers a day after Ariel Sharon, now the Israeli prime minister, visited in September 2000 – a visit Arafat used to rationalize the current terrorist uprising, or intifada, that has resulted in more than 5,000 casualties.
Last week the Israeli government announced it would reopen the complex to Jewish and Christian visitors for two hours every morning. The Waqf, or Muslim council, which oversees day-to-day affairs at the compound objected, complaining it was not consulted.
The compound is known to Jews and Christians as the Temple Mount, having been the site of two Biblical Jewish temples. To Muslims it is the Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary. Within the complex is the Dome of the Rock, or Al Aqsa mosque.
One group that visited Sunday totaled about 40 and included several adherents of the Temple Mount Faithful, a group that seeks to rebuild the Temple. More than 60 other Jews made uneventful visits to the site the same day.
During the tour, some of the Temple Mount activists recited Psalms. However, in an effort to avoid anything the Muslim Waqf might consider provocative, they recited the Psalms quietly rather than aloud and by heart rather than from a prayer book, according to a report in Haaretz. A few even managed to bow down to the ground – a tradition that the various Temple Mount movements have been trying to establish on the mount for many years.
According to group members, some Waqf officials complained to the policemen about the Psalms and the bowing, but the policemen ignored them.