JERUSALEM - Israeli police at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound clashed Sunday with Muslims protesting Jewish visits there as the Islamic holy month of Ramadan approached its climax, Palestinians said. The Palestinian Red Crescent said that it took seven Palestinians to an east Jerusalem hospital for treatment of injuries from sponge-tipped bullets, tear gas and beatings. Police said that officers at the Old City site revered by Muslims and also by Jews - who call it the Temple Mount - arrested four masked youths "who were disrupting visits on the Temple Mount" by non-Muslims. A police spokesman questioned by AFP said he was not aware of officers using force. Islamic officials said that trouble began when Israel allowed the visitors into the compound in breach of a tradition which only allows worshippers to enter during the last 10 days of Ramadan, which are now in progress.

They said they were taken by surprise at the appearance of the visitors and a group of Muslim youths protested, before retreating to the Al-Aqsa mosque itself. The 10 days, which began on Sunday, are the most solemn for Muslims and the period attracts the highest number of worshippers to the site.