Israeli police clash with Palestinians in Jerusalem
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REPORTING FROM JERUSALEM –- Israeli police clashed Friday with rock-throwing Palestinian youths outside the Old City’s Al Aqsa mosque and at a separate Jerusalem checkpoint, resulting in the death of one Palestinian and more than dozen injuries on both sides, according to police and medics.
Tensions around the ancient religious site began rising last week after Jewish extremists stepped up their efforts to gather, tour and hold demonstrations in an area that is predominantly used today by Muslims. Muslim leaders called the actions provocative and asked Palestinian youths to help safeguard the area.
Fearing that Jewish activists might try to enter or damage the mosque, the youths began throwing rocks from the raised compound down on police and tourists near the Western Wall below, spurring police to respond.
The Old City compound, which includes the golden Dome of the Rock, is sacred to Muslims and to Jews, who call it the Temple Mount.
Police had sealed off the mosque area to young Muslims during most of last week in an effort to prevent clashes.
Riots and stone-throwing also broke out Friday at several other locations outside the walled Old City. The most serious clash was at the Qalandia refugee camp, north of Jerusalem. Palestinians there pelted a nearby Israeli army checkpoint with stones and closed the main Ramallah-Jerusalem road with rocks and burning tires.
Israeli army forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets to keep the dozens of young stone-throwers away from the checkpoint.
Palestinian medics said one man suffered a gunshot in the chest and died in surgery.
-- Maher Abukhater