John Kirby
John KirbyREUTERS/Jim Bourg

The White House said on Wednesday it was "extremely concerned" after clashes inside Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and urged restraint by both Israelis and Palestinian Arabs.

"We remain extremely concerned by the continuing violence and we urge all sides to avoid further escalation," White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters, as quoted by the AFP news agency.

"It's imperative, now more than ever, that both Israelis and Palestinians work together to de-escalate this tension and to restore a sense of calm," he added.

Kirby’s comments follow the violent clashes that broke out at Al-Aqsa Mosque overnight Tuesday, during an attempt by police officers to evacuate Muslim worshipers who were holed up in the mosque. Hundreds were evacuated and arrested by police.

Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the riots, noting that the rioters' actions harmed Muslims who merely came to Mosque for Ramadan prayers and not to confront Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount.

Later in the day, the United Arab Emirates criticized Israeli police officers for storming the Al-Aqsa Mosque but, in a rare condemnation, also criticized the worshipers who barricaded themselves inside the mosque, necessitating the entry of the police officers.

Meanwhile, clashes erupted again at the mosque under similar circumstances on Wednesday night. According to Palestinian Arab reports, at least 11 people were arrested. Footage posted online showed some of the worshipers fleeing the Temple Mount in large numbers.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Passover in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)