Two Palestinians have been killed in east Jerusalem near to the Old City where Israeli forces have clashed with Muslim worshippers.

One victim, a 17-year-old, was shot in the head in the Ras al Amud neighbourhood as violence erupted in the area over a ban on Muslim men under the age of 50 entering the al Aqsa mosque for Friday prayers.

The Palestinian health ministry did not give any details of who was behind the shooting. Authorities later confirmed a second fatality.

Earlier, footage showed protesters running for cover from tear gas fired by Israeli forces as tensions continued to rise amid an ongoing dispute over access to the holy site and the installation of metal detectors outside it.

Israeli security forces tried to disperse the angry crowds hurling stones and bottles at them with tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets.

Palestinian authorities claimed live ammunition was also used.

There have now been almost daily clashes between Israeli officers and Palestinians at the entrances to the disputed holy site – considered sacred by both Muslims and Jews.

Muslim worshippers run for cover from tear gas, fired by Israeli forces
Muslim worshippers run for cover from tear gas, fired by Israeli forces

The extra security measures were placed at the religious complex – known as the Temple Mount for Jews and the Noble Sanctuary for Muslims – after three Arab Israelis attacked an Israeli patrol near Lion’s Gate a week ago, killing two policemen.

The three attackers, from the city of Umm al Fahm, were all killed by Israeli security forces.

Religious clerics from the Waqf – the Jordanian trust which manages the site – called for mass protests at Friday noon prayers.

They asked every mosque in the city to close and worshippers were urged to instead pray outside the gates of al Aqsa rather than submit to the security procedures.

“Entry to the Old City and Temple Mount will be limited to men aged 50 and over. Women of all ages will be permitted,” an Israeli police statement said.

Palestinian Muslim clerics speak to Israeli border guards outside a main entrance to the al Aqsa mosque
Palestinian Muslim clerics speak to Israeli border guards outside a main entrance to the al Aqsa mosque

Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld added that 3,000 members of the security forces had been deployed to the area should tensions escalate into ugly clashes.

Access to the al Aqsa compound is already difficult – or impossible – for many Palestinians.

Under the present status quo – which dates back to the Ottoman period – only Muslims have the right to worship on the plaza, although Jews and people from other faiths can visit.

Different residency rights have been introduced by Israel since it captured the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War.

Metal detectors were installed at the holy site after a deadly attack
Metal detectors were installed at the holy site after a deadly attack

Since Israel captured the old city it has remained committed to that formula.

However, the Palestinians claim the extra security measures represent a change to the status quo and a further erosion of their rights of access to the holy site.

Every night for the last week Palestinians have been refusing to go through the metal detectors and have instead been conducting their prayers on the streets.

Israel asserts there is no change to status quo and the metal detectors are necessary to stop further attacks.

Who has control over the holy sites is a contentious issue and one that can provoke outbreaks of violence very easily.

The explosive situation is likely to continue until the matter is resolved.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here