JERUSALEM - Muslims and Israeli police clashed at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound for a second straight day Monday as Jews celebrated their new year and protesters vowed to protect Islam’s third-holiest site.

As they had the day before, Israeli security forces entered the compound early on Monday to prevent Muslim youths from harassing visiting Jews, police said.

Clashes then broke out on the hilltop complex, with booms heard from outside its gates. Muslims have barricaded themselves inside Al-Aqsa amid protests over access to the site, venerated by Jews as the Temple Mount.

“As the police entered the compound, masked youths fled inside the mosque and threw stones at the force,” a police statement said. Police said that five protesters were arrested in the compound and visits went ahead as planned.

Another four were arrested in skirmishes between security forces and protesters in the surrounding alleys of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Police fired stun grenades while hitting and kicking demonstrators and journalists, including from AFP, as they sought to push back crowds.

Muslim protesters fear Israel will seek to change rules governing the site, with far-right Jewish groups pushing for more access to the compound and even efforts by fringe organisations to erect a new temple. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the status quo will be preserved at the sensitive site, but suspicions remain among Palestinians, a sign of the deep mistrust between the two sides. Non-Muslims are allowed to visit the compound, but Jews must not pray or display national symbols for fear of triggering tensions with Muslim worshippers.

“We are worried about Al-Aqsa because Israel wants to empty it and then all Jerusalem of the Muslims,” Sanaa Rajabi, among dozens of women protesting outside the gates of the Al-Aqsa compound, told AFP. “This is the first step to divide Al-Aqsa. They do it step-by-step so that Muslims and Arabs remain silent, but this is the ultimate plan.”

An AFP journalist outside the gate saw a Jewish visitor leaving the compound scuffle with Muslims outside.

Non-Muslim visits to the site increase during Jewish holidays, with some 650 visitors on Sunday, according to police. Another 500 visited on Monday during the 7:30 am to 11:00 am visiting hours, police said.

The Jewish New Year, or Rosh Hashanah, began on Sunday evening and ends on Tuesday evening.

Far-right Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel was among Jewish activists who visited on Sunday, Israeli media reported.

In comments quoted by The Jerusalem Post newspaper in 2013, Ariel said the complex “must be open for prayer at every hour to every Jew.”

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon last week outlawed two Muslim groups that confront Jewish visitors to the compound, further fuelling tensions.

His office said the Murabitat and Murabitun groups were “a main factor in creating the tension and violence” at the compound.

In clashes on Sunday, Muslim witnesses said police entered the mosque and caused damage. Police said only that they closed its doors to lock in rioters throwing stones, fireworks and other objects.

Israeli security forces have used the same tactic in the past to restore calm and which has seen them briefly enter the mosque.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas condemned Sunday’s raid, saying sites such as Al-Aqsa constituted a “red line” and adding that “we will not allow attacks against our holy places”.

Netanyahu however said “it is our responsibility and our power to act against rioters to allow freedom of worship at this holy place.” He said Israel would act “to maintain the status quo and order” at the compound.

Israel seized east Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, in the Six Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

Amid the heightened tensions in Jerusalem, police said Monday that stone-throwing may have caused a car crash that killed an Israeli motorist near a Palestinian neighbourhood of Jerusalem.

Netanyahu has also called an “emergency meeting” of members of his cabinet to discuss ways to curb stone-throwing and petrol bombs following a number of recent incidents.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday night following the end of the Jewish new year holiday, an Israeli government official said.