Dozens of Palestinians were reportedly injured on Friday when Israeli and Palestinian Authority forces suppressed protests across the West Bank amid continuing entry restrictions the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.
At the Qalandiya military checkpoint, three Palestinians were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets as youth threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli forces who responded with stun grenades, tear gas and .
Clashes were also reported on Friday in Hebron, Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqiliya and near Bethlehem.
Israeli border police and Palestinian protesters also reportedly clashed in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabal Mukaber on Friday. Four police officers sustained light-to-moderate wounds during the confrontation in which protesters threw firebombs and reportedly shot at the officers, Haaretz reported.
Israeli police were deployed heavily in Jerusalem on Friday to bar young Muslim men from prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque, capping off a week of clashes between protesters and police at the complex despite international calls for calm.
Police set up heavily-manned checkpoints on streets leading up to the site in Jerusalem’s walled Old City, turning back youngsters, while a police surveillance blimp flew overhead.
“It’s a frontline,” Mazen Shawish, 52, told AFP. “You have to go though 20 military checkpoints to get to the mosque.”
The police said they had an intelligence warning ahead of prayers on Friday that Palestinian youths were planning confrontations at the site and decided to keep them away.
The police used a similar rationale on Sunday when they entered the mosque saying that they had been informed that protesters barricaded in the complex planned to disrupt visits by Jews ahead of the Jewish New Year.
Protesters and their supporters, however, held that they had a right to pray in the mosque and said that the consequent police evacuation with tear gas and rubber bullets was part of a broader escalation of Israeli incursions at the site.
“To evacuate the mosque from Muslim prayers is something new,” Knesset member Jamal Zahalka, who was at the site on Sunday after the clashes, told Middle East Eye. “This is unprecedented.”