In a rare decision, Israeli leaders called up a few hundred border police reservists to beef up security as tensions rose over Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site. One Israeli civilian has been killed in the violence since Sunday.
In the West Bank, violent protests broke out after prayers on Friday afternoon. Israeli troops fired teargas and deployed a water cannon to disperse stone-throwing Palestinian youths. The Palestinian Red Crescent said eight Palestinians were seriously hurt after being shot by live rounds and about 20 were lightly hurt in clashes with Israeli soldiers.
Two Palestinians were shot and wounded while throwing firebombs at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, police said. Palestinians also clashed with Israeli forces in Hebron, Qalandia and elsewhere.
The policemen were attacked on Friday near the area in Jerusalem where an Israeli man died earlier in the week when Palestinians pelted his car with rocks. Palestinians threw firebombs and rocks at the officers and three of them were taken to a hospital, authorities said. Emergency services said one officer was shot in the arm.
Most of the unrest had previously focused on Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site – a hilltop compound sacred to Jews and Muslims. The compound is a frequent flashpoint and its fate is a core issue at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It is known to Jews as the Temple Mount, site of the two biblical Jewish temples and the religion’s holiest site. Muslims revere it as the Noble Sanctuary and it is Islam’s third holiest spot, where they believe Prophet Muhammad ascended on a visit to heaven.