Nine police officers and dozens of Palestinians were injured on Friday when riots broke out at the end of the weekly prayer service on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Six of the wounded officers required medical attention, as did an Israeli photojournalist who was lightly wounded in the riot. Four Palestinians were arrested.
While protests at the end of Friday prayers are not uncommon, this was the first time that the demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails at police. The police called the move "an escalation."
The police said that one of the factors that contributed to the overall agitation was Likud MK Moshe Feiglin's visit to the compound the previous week, and his attempt to enter Al-Aqsa mosque.
According to the police, another contributing factor was a rumor spread by Islamist elements that a police officer had dropped a copy of the Quran on the ground, kicked it and stomped on it.
The atmosphere during Friday's prayer was further agitated by news of the recent death of Palestinian protester Mohammad Asfour, who had been struck in the head by a rubber-coated bullet during a West Bank demonstration last month. According to Palestinian reports, Asfour's skull was fractured and he suffered from bleeding in the brain.
The Jerusalem Police beefed up their presence on Temple Mount and near the Mugrabi Gate on Friday, in light of intelligence indicating that Palestinian youths were planning to cause a disturbance.
Once the riot broke out, the forces entered the compound and used crowd-control measures including tear gas and flash grenades to disperse the protesters, who retreated into the mosque and continued to stone the officers. The protesters also hurled two Molotov cocktails.
Both firebombs flared up, and one of them hit a police officer in the leg, but he was able to extinguish the flames within seconds.
"We consider this to be an escalation. We will find those who rioted and bring them to justice," Jerusalem District Police Commander Yossi Pariente said.
Feiglin's media adviser said, "The Jerusalem Police are the ones responsible for the riots on Temple Mount. His [Feiglin's] removal from the premises at the beginning of last week following threats made by the Waqf [the Islamic religious authority] lent those threats credibility and encouraged the violence."