3 Palestinians dead in Jerusalem clashes, health ministry says

3 Palestinians dead in Jerusalem clashes, health ministry says
Posted at 6:22 AM, Jul 21, 2017

Three Palestinians were killed in Jerusalem on Friday, the Palestinian health ministry said, after clashes over restrictions imposed on worshipers in the Old City.

More than 100 others were injured in the clashes in east Jerusalem neighborhoods, according to Rafiq El Husseini, director of Al Maqassed Hospital, where the bodies of two of the dead were taken. It is unclear who fired the fatal shots.



Tensions were fueled by a decision by Israeli authorities to install metal detectors at entrances to a key holy site in the Old City and bar male worshipers under 50 from attending Friday prayers there.

The restrictions were imposed after two Israeli police officers were killed in a shooting last week just outside the Old City and Temple Mount, also known as the Noble Sanctuary. The area is one of the world's most important religious sites, revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims.

El Husseini said Israeli police had entered his hospital looking for the body of one of the dead Palestinians. "This is the first time we have seen a large scale incursion into the hospital," he said.

Israeli police told CNN they were aware of reports that two people had been taken to hospital and that one had died, but said they could not comment officially as they were still investigating the incident.

Police are also investigating reports that Israeli police entered the hospital, police foreign press spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told CNN.

A spokesman for the Palestinian Red Crescent in Jerusalem, Mohammad Fityani, told CNN that its crews had dealt with 109 injured people by 3 p.m. local time, 72 of whom had been taken to the hospital. Three of those were seriously hurt and one later died, he said.

Tensions in Jerusalem's Old City boiled over into skirmishes after the midday prayer.

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

The Waqf, the Jordanian religious authority which administers the Temple Mount, has condemned the use of metal detectors to scan worshipers. Waqf religious leaders have refused to enter through the detectors which have been set up as part of the security clampdown.

Israeli police said they were working to ensure that Friday prayers were able to continue while the heightened security measures are in place.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the metal detectors do not signal changes in the way the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary is run. "There is absolutely no change to the status quo," he told reporters earlier in the week.

The Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary was closed after last Friday's attack, and reopened Sunday for worshipers, visitors and tourists, with added security measures.

It is home to the Western Wall -- which was part of the walls around the Second Jewish Temple and is one of the holiest places for Jews to pray -- and the Dome of the Rock, where Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven.