Mondoweiss

Three settlers stabbed to death and three Palestinians shot dead in turmoil over security measures at al-Aqsa mosque compound (Updated)

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank who were unable or unwilling to get Israeli permits to enter Jerusalem instead held prayers in their own towns. In Bethlehem worshippers prayed on a main road in the city in front of Israel's separation wall. The prayers turned into clashes when Israeli forces opened skunk water and tear gas on the demonstration. (Photo/Sheren Khalel)

Update (July 23)

A Palestinian identified as Omar al-Abed, 20, was shot and arrested during a lethal stabbing attack the teen carried out in the illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish Friday night, according to local media.

Israeli sources said al-Abed killed three settlers. Haaretz said that the victims were a father and two of his children, attacked as they had Sabbath meal. al-Abed was reported to have written on Facebook, “I’m 20, I have many dreams, but there is no life after what is seen in Al-Aqsa.”

Halamish is a Jewish settlement that has taken lands and the spring belonging to the village of Nabi Saleh, a village whose resistance to occupation, featuring weekly demonstrations and stone-throwers, has had global resonance.

We originally reported that Omar al-Abed had been shot dead, but later reports said the youth was shot but not killed.

Original Post:

Three Palestinian youth were killed during demonstrations in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday, as clashes erupted across the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in protest against new security measures installed by Israeli authorities at the al-Aqsa mosque after a deadly shooting earlier this week.

The first Palestinian killed, identified as 18-year-old Mohammed Mahmoud Sharaf, was reportedly shot dead by an Israeli settler, according to local media. Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told Mondoweiss that he could not confirm the events that lead to the teenager’s death, but did confirm that the 18-year-old was immediately taken for burial in his hometown in East Jerusalem moments after he was killed.

“We are investigating the reports, but have not been able to confirm exactly what happened,” Rosenfeld said.

The second Palestinian, identified as 20-year-old Mohammed Abu Ghanam, was killed by Israeli forces near the Old City of Jerusalem during ongoing clashes in the city. He was evacuated to a local hospital where a spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent told Mondoweiss he was undergoing operations, however it was later confirmed that the youth had succumbed to his wounds.

Video of the family lifting the 20-year-old’s remains over a stone wall surrounding the hospital quickly surfaced on social media. Because of the presence of Israeli forces investigating those injured during clashes at the hospital, the family of Abu Ghanam feared Israeli forces would confiscate the slain Palestinian’s remains, so they decided to smuggle the body out of the hospital. The video footage shows family members heaving the recently killed youth’s body over the wall in order to begin a funeral procession to his hometown’s martyrs’ cemetery.

A third Palestinian was killed during clashes in Abu Dis, a town of Jerusalem that was divided from the city by Israel’s separation wall. The teen was identified as 17-year-old Mohammed Mahmoud Khalaf.

Protesters run from tear gas in Bethlehem (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

A spokesperson with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, Erab al-Fuqaha, told Mondoweiss that at least 131 Palestinians had been injured just in occupied East Jerusalem as of 3:30 p.m. local time on Friday. At the same time Al-Quds News Agency reported that 11 Palestinians were injured in Ramallah, 31 in Bethlehem, four in Qalqiliya, six in Hebron and seven in Tulkarem, however those numbers are expected to rise significantly as clashes continue into the evening.

According to Rosenfeld, at least 10 Palestinians were detained in occupied East Jerusalem.

Clashes were also reported in Tuqu village, where a Palestinian was shot and killed during clashes the night before, in Akka, a northern coastal town on the Mediterranean sea, as well as the Gaza Strip among many other areas.

Activists in the West Bank unable to get permits to enter Jerusalem created a model of al-Aqsa mosque to display at the street prayer. One worshipper holds a sign declaring Jerusalem a Palestinian city. (Photo/Sheren Khalel)

Israeli intelligence service: New measures unnecessary

The security measures Palestinians are protesting were imposed after three Palestinian gunmen were shot dead the previous Friday while carrying out an attack against Israeli police. The attackers shot and killed two Israeli police officers before they were shot dead by Israeli forces. The incident took place in and around the al-Aqsa mosque compound. The attack happened hours after Israeli forces shot dead an 18-year-old during a pre-dawn in Dheisha refugee camp.

In response to the attack, Israeli authorities closed the al-Aqsa mosque and the compound, a green space surrounding the mosque, for the first time since 1967. The area was reopened on Sunday, with turnstiles, metal detectors and cameras installed at all the entrances leading to the mosque compound.

While the Israeli security cabinet met on Thursday afternoon and again later that night to discuss the new security measures, the government decided against taking down the new measures at the mosque, against the recommendations of Israel’s intelligence service, the Shin Bet, and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, which oversees the occupied West Bank.

The security measures are at the heart of what sparked clashes across the region. Friday was the fifth and most intense day of clashes since the measures were were imposed.

Palestinians have widely refused to go through the metal detectors at the gates, saying they will not allow the Israeli security establishment to monitor their most important place of worship in such a way, and vowing to boycott prayers at the al-Aqsa until the metal detectors are taken down.

Instead thousands of Jerusalemites have gathered daily to pray in the streets surrounding the Old City — a measure supported by the Fatah, the ruling party in the occupied West Bank, Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza, as well as the Islamic Waqf, the Islamic endowment administering Al-Aqsa. The Waqf on Tuesday called for all mosques in Jerusalem to be closed, and for worshipers to instead pray in the streets surrounding Jerusalem’s Old City.

Palestinians vow that protests will be ongoing until the security measures are dismantled. By nightfall on Friday, thousands of Palestinians were still holding prayers in the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City, as seen in videos across social media.