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Friday, July 21, 2017

Al-Aqsa dispute leaves 3 Palestinians, 3 Israeli settlers dead

Israeli police enter hospital, witnesses believed they were looking for those wounded in protests
Israeli forces grapple with a Palestinian worshipper outside Jerusalem's Old City on 21 July, 2017 (AFP)

Lubna Masarwa's picture
Lubna Masarwa- Friday 21 July 2017

Three Palestinians were shot dead and four others protesters were injured as thousands of Palestinian worshippers clashed with Israeli security forces on a "day of rage" over Israeli control of Islam's third holiest site. Israel's army said that three Israeli settlers were stabbed to death and a fourth was wounded in a knife attack in the Israeli West Bank settlement of Neve Tsuf on Friday.
Mohammad Sharaf, 17, was reported to have been shot by an Israeli settler in the Ras Alamood area in east Jerusalem. Mohammed Hassan Abu Ghannam, 19, died from his wounds in al-Makassad hospital after he was shot by an Israeli settler in East Jerusalem. 
A third Palestinian was killed in Abu Dis, AFP reported quoting Palestinian officials saying. "A Palestinian was killed after he was shot in the heart by live bullets," the Palestinian health ministry said.
Footage on social media shows Ghannam's body being carried over the hospital gate by members of the Palestinian paramedics and protesters.

The army said in a statement that the four victims were Israeli civilians and that the assailant was also shot. It was not known whether he was killed or wounded.

Israel Radio identified him as a 19-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank village of Khobar near Ramallah.
The deaths came as thousands of Palestinians clashed with police following peaceful prayers around the Old City. Those inside refused to enter the Noble Sanctuary and the Aqsa mosque in protest at new Israeli security checkpoints at two key entrances.
The sanctuary has for a week been subjected to increased security measures, including metal detectors, that many in Palestine see as an attempt to gain control of the site.
Worshippers outside the Old City were scattered soon after Friday prayers as Israeli police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowds in Salah al-Din Street. Four Palestinians were reported injured.
Ahmad Abdul Salaam, who came to pray outside the Noble Sanctuary, said: "Putting these metal detectors at the entrance to our place of worship is like putting them at the entrance to our house. Are you really going to put me through a metal detector as I go into my house?"

Israeli police enter hospital

Israeli police also entered al-Makassad hospital in Jerusalem, and asked employees to leave. Witnesses said they believed Israeli officers were looking for those wounded in the clashes.
Earlier the hospital released a statement asking for blood donations due to the number of injured.
The Israeli action after prayers came on a day Palestinian leaders had promised a "day of rage" over Israel's moves to control access to the Noble Sanctuary following an attack by gunmen last week that killed two Israeli police.
Talks to remove metal detectors from the gated entrances collapsed overnight as Palestinian Authority negotiators refused to accept Israel's offer of subjecting only "suspicious people" to metal detection checks.
Israel had poured thousands of extra police into the city in response. Police were seen taking up positions above crowds of worshippers, armed with baton rounds and assault rifles.

Officials including the Palestinian Authority's chief negotiator, Hatem Abdel-Kader, were arrested shortly after the talks failed.
Speaking to MEE before his arrest, Abdel-Kader, said: "The Israeli offer to keep the metal detectors in place, but only require suspicious individuals to pass through them, was unreservedly rejected by the Palestinians.
"There will be an escalation tomorrow. Clashes will inevitably continue until freedom of religion is restored."
Clashes between Palestinians hurling stones and Israeli police using stun grenades have been a daily occurrence in East Jerusalem since metal detectors were placed on Saturday at entrances to the Noble Sanctuary, which includes al-Aqsa mosque.
Israel installed the metal detectors after three Palestinian-Israeli gunmen shot dead two Israeli policemen on 14 July outside the Noble Sanctuary complex in one of the most serious attacks in the area in years. Israeli security forces killed the assailants.
Religious figures and Palestinian politicians called for resistance on Friday morning to what is widely seen across Palestine as an attempt by Israel to control al-Aqsa.

Abdala Athem Salhab, the head of the Waqf counsel which administers the Noble Sanctury site, said: "We are all united and it's our responsibility to protect the Aqsa mosque - we won't step back. We are asking Jordan to intervene to remove the doors, otherwise Israel is leading the area to religious war."

Ahmed Tibi, a member of the Israeli parliament for the Arab List coalition, said it was the duty of Palestinians in Israel and Jerusalem and the West Bank "to act now in order to protect the Aqsa from the Israeli forces. The Aqsa is not only a religion issue but also a political one."
"Our response to Netanyahu is that we say no to the detectors and we will continue the protest. We hope the Islamic world and the international community take action to stop the violations."
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas spoke with Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law to Donald Trump, who has been tasked with resolving the Middle East peace impasse, reported Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency.
Abbas called on Washington to immediately intervene, saying that the situation was "extremely dangerous and might spiral out of control," the agency said.


Muslim religious authorities claim the metal detectors violate a delicate agreement on worship and security arrangements at the Jerusalem site and have urged Palestinians not to pass through. Prayers have been held near an entrance to the complex.
On Thursday night, Israeli forces wounded 22 Palestinians at Lion's Gate, near Haram al-Sharif, in Jerusalem. According to the Red Crescent, two of those hurt are in serious condition after they were hit by a stun grenade.
Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has considered removing the devices at the Jerusalem holy site but so far the detectors remain in place.
Abdel-Kader said that the move to instal metal detectors in the compound is a power play on Israel’s part.
"The metal detectors serve no security purpose whatsoever. Rather, their erection is a political play to pressure Palestinians into relinquishing control of al-Aqsa," he told Middle East Eye.
Israeli police take high positions before Friday prayers (MEE/Lubna Masarwa)
The negotiator added that all of the mosques in Jerusalem will be closed on Friday in an effort to "direct Palestinians toward al-Aqsa", which he hopes will draw thousands of people.
"With the religious and political sensitivities surrounding al-Aqsa - as a universal sanctuary for Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims - Israel is taking a massive gamble and ultimately, crossing a red line. Undoubtedly, this may have dangerous consequences," Abdel-Kader said.
Far-right members of Netanyahu's government have publicly urged him to keep the devices in place at the flashpoint.
Still, Israeli media reports said security chiefs were divided over the issue amid concerns about wider Palestinian unrest in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
"Israel is committed to maintaining the status quo at the Temple Mount and the freedom of access to the holy places," the security cabinet said in a statement.
"The cabinet has authorised the police to take any decision in order to ensure free access to the holy places while maintaining security and public order."