A Palestinian man died Friday at the Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank, between Ramallah and Jerusalem, as some security forces faced off against some 1,000 Palestinians rioting at the site.
The protests erupted when dozens of Palestinians tried to break through the checkpoint in order to attend the final Friday prayers of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the flashpoint Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Channel 2 reported. Security forces at the site used riot dispersal measures, which Palestinian sources said included tear gas.
According to the Palestinian news agency Ma’an, the man in his 40s choked as a result of the use of tear gas, and was taken to hospital in Ramallah, where he was pronounced dead.
An Israeli military source said, however, that the man’s death was caused by a heart attack, not from inhaling tear gas, the Walla news website reported.
Three police officers were lightly injured in the violence, Walla said. The crossing was closed temporarily due to the riots.
Jerusalem Police were on high alert in the Old City and the predominantly Arab eastern areas of the capital for Friday prayers.
Thousands of police were deployed Friday morning across East Jerusalem and around the Temple Mount, where the thousands of Muslim worshipers were expected to pray, Channel 2 said.
Israel granted 380 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip permission to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Friday, according to Israel Radio. Israel also allowed 80 of the worshipers to remain in the mosque compound overnight in order to mark Laylat al-Qadr, the night on which Muslims believe the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.
In an effort to cap rising tensions, Israel announced Tuesday it was closing the mosque compound to non-Muslim visitors after a series of clashes between worshipers and police.
The decision will apply until the end of Ramadan next week, a police spokeswoman said.