The police and clergy said about 500 Palestinians approached the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to protest against Patriarch Irineos I, who has been accused in media reports of selling Greek Orthodox Church land in Jerusalem to Jews.

Irineos, who denies the allegations, had been celebrating Orthodox Good Friday Mass inside the church, said Marwan Tubasi, Greek Orthodox Council chairman in the Palestinian territories.

Israeli police tried to disperse the protesters to stop them from reaching the church, sparking clashes that injured 15, Tubasi said, adding that protesters told him police beat them with clubs.

An officer was also injured in the scuffle and four protesters were detained for questioning, police said.

Media reports that Irineos sold church land in the holy city to Jews have angered Palestinians, who see such deals as attempts by Israel to seize property in Arab East Jerusalem, which they want as the capital of a Palestinian state.