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Negotiations end clash at Jerusalem holy site

Story Highlights

• Israeli construction project near mosque draws protest
• Protesters throw rocks; Israeli police respond with stun grenades
• Thousands of protesters locked in mosque for a time
• Legislator in the mosque at the time negotiates an end to the standoff
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- An Israeli-Arab legislator Friday helped negotiate an end to a standoff between Palestinians and police at a disputed Jerusalem holy site.

The Palestinian protesters were upset with an Israeli construction project near Al Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third holiest shrine, in Jerusalem's Old City.

The area known as the Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary or Haram Al-Sharif to Muslims is sacred to both groups.

The Palestinians were protesting Israel's attempt to renovate a ramp that will lead to the Mugrabi Gate. (Watch as rocks fly during clashes)

That gate, to which Israel holds the key, leads into the compound of Al Aqsa Mosque. Construction began Tuesday to replace a wooden ramp built after an earthquake and heavy snow damaged the original one in 2004.

The clashes began around midday following Friday prayers.

Blasts and shouting could be heard -- along with thud of stun grenades fired by Israeli forces -- as a throng of people gathered to protest the repair work.

According to Israeli police, 15 Israeli police officers were wounded and 17 Palestinians were arrested.

The grand mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Mohammed Hussein said 15 Palestinians were injured.

Clashes began after Palestinian youths somehow managed to enter the secured compound, restricted Friday by Israeli security forces to men older than 45.

They began throwing rocks at police in protest, said Mostafa Abu-Sway, a professor at Al-Quds University.

The age restrictions were enforced as part of an Israeli security precaution. The youths are believed to have entered Al Aqsa Mosque on Tuesday after Israel began the construction work.

Abu-Sway said he and thousands of other worshippers were locked in the mosque by Israeli troops as a security precaution.

Israeli officials put the number of worshippers visiting the mosque at around 4,000, much fewer than the tens of thousands who usually attend Friday prayers.

"Basically we are hostages because we are held against our will inside the mosque," Abu-Sway said at the time. "I don't think people are frightened but they are concerned."

Talab El Sana -- an Israeli-Arab member of Israel's parliament, the Knesset -- was inside the compound at the time and helped strike an agreement with police to end the violence.

El Sana asked police to allow the young Palestinians locked inside the mosque to be allowed to leave if they left quietly.

Police agreed and Israeli National Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the youths were leaving quietly.

Earlier during the incident, up to 3,000 police officers flooded the area around the Old City and the compound.

They were attempting to halt Muslim protesters from throwing stones at Israeli security forces, and Israeli officials evacuated the Western Wall plaza below the Temple Mount.

CNN's Kevin Flower and Ben Wedeman contributed to this report.

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