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Israel detains Jerusalem's top Islamic cleric: police

Israeli police were questioning Jerusalem's most senior Muslim cleric,  Mohammed Hussein pictured March 25, 2013
Israeli police were questioning Jerusalem's most senior Muslim cleric, Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Hussein pictured March 25, 2013, on Wednesday for suspected involvement in a "disturbance" at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Holy City, a spokesman said

Police were questioning a top Muslim cleric on Wednesday over a "disturbance" at Al-Aqsa mosque compound, a spokesman said, as Israelis were celebrating Jerusalem Day.

Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Hussein was taken from his home by detectives and was being questioned at a police station "on suspicion of involvement in a disturbance" that took place at the compound a day earlier, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

"Some chairs were thrown at a group of Jews on the Temple Mount," he said of the plaza which is known to Muslims as Al-Haram al-Sharif.

The site, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosques, and is also venerated by Jews as the place where their two ancient temples once stood, the last of which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas "condemned the occupying Israeli authorities' detention of Jerusalem mufti Mohammed Hussein," his office said in a statement.

Abbas "demanded the Israeli government release the mufti immediately, and said the arrest represents an audacious challenge to freedom of worship."

Hussein's detention comes as Israelis were celebrating Jerusalem Day which marks the "reunification" of the city after Israel captured the Arab eastern sector from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

Thousands of Israelis are to join marches and rallies throughout the city later on Wednesday, with Rosenfeld saying "thousands of police were deployed in and around Jerusalem and the Old City in preparation for the annual events."

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