Tensions

The latest tensions exploded into violence on September 27, when Palestinians hurled rocks at a group of visitors whom they suspected of being rightwing Jewish extremists.

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Police, who responded with stun grenades, said the group was made up of French tourists.

The incident came in the midst of a month in which Jews mark three of their most important holidays.

Suspicions were rife among Palestinians that Jewish worshippers would try to pray at the revered site during this period.

The Jewish holiday period ended on Saturday.

The site of al-Aqsa is the holiest place in Judaism and third holiest in Islam, and any perceived change in the status quo there has often led to outbreaks of deadly violence.

In September 2000, the second Palestinian uprising, or intifada, erupted after Ariel Sharon, a rightwing politician who went on to become Israel's prime minister, visited the site.