Jordan accused Israel of attacking and desecrating a revered mosque and withdrew its ambassador, stoking the growing tensions surrounding the city’s most sensitive holy site.
In a second outburst of violence on Wednesday linked to the same site, a Palestinian driver rammed into several groups of Israelis in Jerusalem and killed a border policeman. Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules Gaza, claimed responsibility and tied it to friction over the hilltop site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary.
On Wednesday night, Israeli police and the army reported that a vehicle with Palestinian plates ran down and injured three soldiers in the West Bank outside the town of Bethlehem.
Hayel Dawood, Jordan’s minister of Islamic affairs, accused Israel of attacking Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, Islam’s third holiest site. The Waqf, a Muslim religious authority linked to Jordan that administers the site, said sparks from Israeli stun grenades ignited a fire inside and Mr. Dawood said carpets and two chandeliers were burned.
“This is tantamount to state terrorism,” Mr. Dawood said. “It is also a violation of Jordan’s peace treaty.” Jordan is one of only two Arab countries that have a peace treaty with Israel.
Israel denied it was responsible for the fire and blamed Arab protesters, saying they were launching firecrackers at police from within the mosque during clashes. Police said they went a few feet inside the mosque and shut the door on them.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emanuel Nachshon said that when Jordan recalled its ambassador, officials complained to Israel that its police forces had desecrated the mosque by entering it. He said Israel wanted to calm tensions so this doesn’t turn into a religious conflict.
The mount, revered by both Jews and Muslims, has become the focus of escalating violence between Arabs and Israelis in Jerusalem since July.
The site where the ancient Jewish temple once stood now houses the Al-Aqsa mosque and the golden-capped Dome of the Rock shrine. It has been shaken by clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in recent days and by demands from mostly right-wing Jewish activists for more access to pray at the site. Israeli authorities have closed the hilltop plaza twice since Friday to avert violence.
In the latest unrest on Wednesday, Israeli security forces stormed the mount and clashed with Palestinian protesters after a group of right-wing Jewish activists attempted to gain entry to the site.