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Palestinians killed in new clashes in occupied West Bank

Clashes broke out near Jerusalem's Old City on Friday [AFP]

Date of publication: 23 July, 2017

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Two Palestinians were killed in the latest clashes with Israeli forces over security measures at al-Aqsa mosque compound.

Two Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli forces on Saturday as the army moved in to seal off an attacker's home after violence over security measures at an ultra-sensitive holy site.

The UN Security Council will hold closed-door talks on Monday about the spiralling violence after Egypt, France and Sweden sought a meeting to "urgently discuss how calls for de-escalation in Jerusalem can be supported".

It came after another day of violence followed bloodshed on Friday, when a 19-year-old Palestinian killed three Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank and three Palestinians died in clashes with Israeli forces.

On Saturday, the Israeli army used a bulldozer to close off the 19-year-old attacker's village in the occupied West Bank and prepare his house for probable demolition.

Israel frequently punishes the families of attackers by razing or sealing their homes as a deterrent, although rights groups say this amounts to collective punishment.

Clashes also flared in occupied east Jerusalem and other Palestinian villages in the West Bank near Jerusalem, police said, adding that anti-riot measures were used against them.

At the Qalandiya crossing between the West Bank and Jerusalem, clashes wounded at least eight Palestinians, the Palestinian health ministry said.

A Palestinian died of wounds suffered in clashes east of Jerusalem, the ministry said, adding that 17-year-old Oday Nawajaa was hit by Israeli live fire at al-Azariya.

Another Palestinian, 18, died nearby when a petrol bomb exploded prematurely.

The violence was triggered by security measures including metal detectors at the entrance to the Haram al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, ahead of the main weekly Friday prayers.

Israel imposed the measures after a gun and knife attack killed two Israeli policemen on 14 July.

The Palestinians reject the measures, viewing them as Israel asserting further control over the holy site.

The site in Jerusalem's Old City that includes the revered al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock has been a focal point for Palestinians.

In 2000, then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon's visit to the compound helped ignite the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, which lasted more than four years.

Abbas freezes contacts

On Friday, clashes erupted around the Old City.

Three Palestinians aged between 17 and 20 were shot dead. The Red Crescent reported 450 people wounded in Jerusalem and the West Bank, including 170 from live or rubber bullets.

Later on Friday, a 19-year-old Palestinian broke into a home in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank and stabbed four Israelis, killing three.

He was shot by a neighbour and taken to hospital.

Israeli soldiers raided the Palestinian's nearby village of Kobar overnight and arrested his brother, the army said.

Amid mounting pressure to respond to the dispute, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced late on Friday he was freezing contacts with Israel.

The European Union called on Israel and Jordan, custodian of Haram al-Sharif mosque compound, to work together to "ensure security for all" in the Old City.

'For all Muslims'

On Saturday, entrances to Jerusalem's walled Old City were open amid heavy security.

The metal detectors also remained at the entrance to the mosque compound. Palestinians see this as an attempt by Israel to assert control over the Muslim holy site.

"Al-Aqsa - that's for the Muslims, not for the Jewish," said Mohammad Haroub, a 42-year-old shopkeeper.

Like hundreds of others, he prayed outside on Friday instead of passing through the metal detectors.

The Haram al-Sharif compound is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It is in east Jerusalem, seized by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move viewed as illegal by the international community.

It is considered the third holiest site in Islam and the most sacred for Jews.
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