Videos shared on social media showed serious unrest and violence at the entrance to the mosque building from before sunrise with Palestinians throwing stones and firecrackers and Israeli security forces firing what appeared to be stun grenades and tear gas.
There were also early clashes at the Lions’ Gate entrance to the Old City.
By mid-morning, the Palestinian Red Crescent said more than 150 people had been taken to hospital with injuries from rubber bullets and stun grenades, as well as wounds sustained from beatings by police.
Among those injured was a cameraman, Rami Khatib, who suffered a broken hand. Video shows him being kicked and beaten by police officers.
Earlier, police released CCTV video showing masked men apparently preparing for clashes overnight by smashing up rocks and gathering them in black buckets.
Police said several officers were taken to hospitals after they were hit by rocks.
Following initial clashes on the compound and at the doors to the mosque, Israeli police entered the building around 9:30 a.m., as evidenced by numerous social media videos.
Worshipers could be seen lying on the ground apparently detained, as dozens of police stood over them.
Other videos show heavy smoke inside the mosque and the constant sound of firecrackers and stun grenades going off.
Israeli police said they made more than 300 arrests inside the mosque but insisted they had only entered the compound because those throwing rocks were jeopardizing safe worship.
At the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City, one of the main entrances for Muslims on their way to the al-Aqsa mosque, police briefly prevented people from entering.
Earlier, at entrances to the mosque compound, police were allowing older men and women to enter, but preventing young men from joining them.
In a statement, Israeli police said violence broke out at 4 a.m. local time Friday (9 p.m. ET Thursday) when “dozens of young Palestinian lawbreakers, some of them with heads covered, began to march around Temple Mount, with Hamas and Palestinian Authority flags, letting off fireworks and throwing stones.”
Israel’s Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, paid tribute to security forces, saying they had acted with sensitivity and determination, adding, “The riots this morning on the Temple Mount are unacceptable and go against the spirit of the religions we believe in.”
While tensions have been very high in Israel and the West Bank in recent weeks, following a series of violent attacks and incidents, Jerusalem itself has been calm.
Fears of possible clashes in the city had been growing however, following comments over the last week by both Jewish extremists…