Three Palestinians were reported killed in clashes that erupted between protesters and Israeli police on Friday in East Jerusalem and the West Bank as thousands demonstrated against the installation of metal detectors at the entrances to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. The upgraded Israeli security measures at the Temple Mount were introduced after three Arab Israelis shot dead two Israeli police officers on duty there last Friday, using guns they had smuggled into the Al-Aqsa mosque.
Palestinian medical officials said all three died of gunshot wounds. Israel said it was investigating the reports.
The Palestinian Authority’s official Wafa news agency said a 17-year-old was killed in Ras al-Amud outside the Old City after being shot by a “settler,” though no shooter was identified; the term is often used by Palestinians to refer to any Israeli out of uniform. The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the teen as Muhammad Mahmoud Sharaf from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
A second person was reportedly shot in the A-Tur area and died of his wounds at Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem. He was identified by Palestinian media as Muhammad Hassan Abu Ghanem. The Wafa agency did not give his age or his place of residence.
The third death reportedly occurred in Abu Dis in the West Bank, near Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The fatality was identified as Muhammad Lafi, 18, from Abu Dis, by Palestinian media.
Pictures of the three were published in a Facebook post by the Fatah party. The three were laid to rest Friday evening.
الشهداء المحمودون في الارض والسماء الذين ارتقوا شهداء من اجل #القدس الشهيد محمد شرفالشهيد محمد ابو غنام الشهيد محمد لافي #شهداء_القدس
Over 200 people were reported injured in the clashes across Jerusalem and the West Bank on Friday, the Palestinian Red Crescent said, adding that the injuries were incurred from live bullets, rubber-coated bullets, burning and tear gas inhalation.
Israel Police said they used crowd dispersal means to counter the clashes, and were aware of two people injured who were taken to the Makassed Hospital.
At least one Israeli police officer was injured.
In the Qalandiya refugee camp east of Jerusalem, approximately 600 Palestinians threw rocks and rolled burning tires at troops, an army spokesperson said. Israeli forces responded with live fire, tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets.
In Hebron, hundreds of Palestinians also took part in violent demonstrations. The army responded with less lethal 0.22 Ruger rounds, tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets, but not full live fire, a spokesperson said.
Palestinians also threw rocks at cars outside the West Bank settlement of Tekoa. Two cars were damaged but there were no reports of injuries.
By 3 p.m., police said, most of the protests had ended or were dying down.
Dozens of makeshift checkpoints were set up in and around Jerusalem’s Old City and police patrols were bolstered in the alleyways and on paths taken by Jewish and Muslim worshipers to the Temple Mount and Western Wall.
Throughout the Old City, worshipers protested new security procedures at the holy site imposed by the Israel Police after last Friday’s deadly terror attack there that left two police officers dead. Muslim leaders instructed those wishing to pray not to agree to pass through the metal detector gates posted at the Temple Mount. Only a few Palestinians agreed to security checks and entered the site on Friday, with thousands more praying or protesting at various sites around the city.
The city’s top Muslim cleric, Mohammed Hussein, told worshipers Friday that he expected a “long test of wills” with Israel.
At Wadi Joz just north of the Old City walls, rioters threw rocks and water bottles at police, and some set off fireworks. Police responded with tear gas, pushing back the crowd.
Several thousand police officers were deployed around the Old City and at entrances to Jerusalem in concentric rings amid a tense security standoff in anticipation of violent riots by Muslim worshipers.
Muslim leaders urged worshipers from around the country to flood into the holy site in protest of Israel’s decision early Friday to continue to employ metal detectors at the entrances to the Al-Aqsa compound.
Dozens of buses filled with worshipers were turned back at police checkpoints at Jerusalem’s entrances on Friday.
A police checkpoint on Route 1, the main highway into the city, was pulling aside public transportation vehicles to ask passengers if they were headed to the Temple Mount.
Large crowds of Palestinians gathered at various entrances to the Old City, including at the Lions Gate to the Temple Mount, where many began chants vowing to “redeem Al-Aqsa” and calling for the expulsion of the Jews.
Following the deadly attack last Friday, Israel initially closed the site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, as it searched for more weapons.
The compound, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock shrine, was reopened Sunday with metal detectors installed, a step Palestinians protested as a change to the longstanding status quo. Israel denied this and noted that those who enter the Western Wall plaza below have long been required to pass through metal detectors.
The Temple Mount is the holiest place to Jews as the site of the biblical temples.
Earlier Friday police said they had intelligence that said “extremist elements” intended “to cause violent disruptions to the public order, and thereby to threaten the public peace, including the [safety] of those coming to pray at the holy sites and other residents of the area.”
Friday prayers on the Muslim holy day are the busiest time in the week at the Temple Mount, with tens of thousands expected to arrive at the compound. The Palestinian terror group Hamas called for mass protests on Friday against the increased security measures.
Palestinian media reported that several key East Jerusalem figures were arrested overnight on suspicion of encouraging violent protests. Among those under arrest were Fatah’s secretary-general in Jerusalem Adnan Ghaith and the head of the city’s Palestinian Prisoners’ Families Committee Amjad Abu Assab.
Over 3,000 police officers are deployed in the Old City area, police have said.
In addition to the heavily bolstered police presence, the army announced Thursday that five battalions would be made available to deal with violence in and around the capital.
The IDF also canceled all leave over the weekend, keeping all units at full strength in anticipation of possible violence in the West Bank.
Palestinian officials have denounced the increased security at the site as a change in the delicate status quo that governs the site. Israel has denied this, saying the new measures were necessitated by last Friday’s attack, in which three Arab-Israelis emerged armed from the compound and shot dead two Israeli police officers stationed just outside.
On Thursday, Israel Police released video footage showing the weapons being smuggled onto the Temple Mount.