Violent clashes in Jerusalem leave several dead, more than 100 wounded

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Palestinians react following tear gas that was shot by Israeli forces after Friday prayer on a street outside Jerusalem’s Old city July 21, 2017. Photo by Ammar Awad and Reuters

Several are dead and more than 100 wounded after violent clashes Friday in Jerusalem over new security measures at some of the city’s most sacred holy sites.

Three Palestinians were killed and more than 100 civilians were injured in several street clashes after Friday prayers, Palestinian health officials told CNN. Five Israeli police officers were injured, the Guardian reported. Three people were also killed by a Palestinian after a stabbing spree inside a West Bank Israeli settlement, the Associated Press says.

Tensions have run high since last week, when three gunmen shot and killed two Israeli policeman near Temple Mount, a hilltop compound near the Western Wall and one of the most important holy sites in Judaism, Islam and Christianity. The attackers were killed by Israeli police.

The compound, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, was closed after the attack. On Sunday, after it reopened, Israeli security forces placed metal detectors outside, something Palestinian officials told Reuters was a violation of their worship agreements.

On Friday, Israeli security forces put additional restrictions on entry to the al-Aqsa mosque, the Guardian reported, turning away women and men over the age of 50. NPR’s Daniel Estrin said police “blocked buses of Muslims coming to Jerusalem from around the country.”

Instead, Muslim worshippers who refused to pass through the detectors held prayers outside in the streets.

After midday prayers Friday, tensions boiled over, as detailed by a CNN crew on scene:

In one instance, a CNN team outside Herod’s Gate saw Israeli police start forcefully pushing worshippers back and pointing their weapons at them. The officers then fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the worshippers and move them back.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had called for security forces to remove the metal detectors in an effort to diffuse the situation, The Guardian says. The Jordanian government, which controls the holy sites, has also criticized the use of metal detectors.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced earlier Friday it would freeze contact with Israel at “all levels until it cancel the steps taken against our people in Al-Aqsa and in Jerusalem,” the Times of Israel reported. It’s not clear how this will affect security.

The Associated Press said including Friday’s violence, “Palestinians have killed 47 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British tourist in stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks against civilians and soldiers. During that period, Israeli forces have killed more than 255 Palestinians, most of them said by Israel to be attackers.”

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