Three Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded Friday as clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli forces over new security measures at an ultra-sensitive Bayt al-Muqaddas holy site where police restricted access for Muslim prayers.
One Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli gunfire in the A-Tur neighbourhood of east Bayt al-Muqaddas, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
A second Palestinian was killed by gunfire in east Bait al-Muqaddas´s Ras al-Amud neighbourhood, while a third was shot dead in Abu Dis in the occupied West Bank, the ministry said, without providing details on the circumstances.
Israel´s army confirmed it was involved in clashes in Abu Dis. The unrest came after Israeli ministers decided not to order the removal of metal detectors erected at entrances to the Haram al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, following an attack nearby a week ago that killed two policemen.
In anticipation of protests on Friday, Israeli police barred men under 50 from entering Bayt al-Muqaddas´s Old City for prayers, while all women were allowed in.
Police said later in the day that discretion could be applied in the use of the metal detectors instead of forcing everyone to go through them.
But Palestinian and religious leaders were still calling on worshippers not to enter until they were removed. Hundreds held midday prayers near the gates of the Old City in protest. According to police, dozens of people entered the compound.
Crowds gathered outside Jerusalem´s Old City found shops closed and streets around Damascus Gate — the entrance most heavily used by Palestinians — blocked.
A group of several hundred people, including Muslim leaders, marched towards the Lions Gate entrance to the mosque compound, but police informed them that only men aged 50 or over would be allowed in. Police later fired stun grenades and tear gas towards protesters outside the Old City, while Palestinians threw stones and other objects at security forces in some areas.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that 109 people were wounded in Bayt al-Muqaddas, of whom 38 were taken to hospital.—AFP