Palestinians protest in Jerusalem, Gaza
JERUSALEM - Israeli gunfire killed a Palestinian teenager at a protest along Gaza-Israel border fence, Gaza officials said Friday, as thousands in contested Jerusalem descended on a section of a flashpoint holy site that has been closed by Israeli court order for over a decade.
Israeli police rounded up 60 "suspects" in Jerusalem overnight and promised more arrests Friday, after what a spokesman said were calls for unrest at the city's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the detainees were "Arabs", a term that could refer to Palestinians and Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Israeli public radio said that all were residents of east Jerusalem, illegally occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six Day war.
Rosenfeld said the crackdown followed "calls for public disturbances" at Muslim Friday prayers.
"As part of the police preparations based on intelligence, police arrested 60 suspects involved in incitement to violence," he said.
"Police will continue to make arrests."
An official statement said police numbers in and around the Al Aqsa compound -- in east Jerusalem's walled Old City -- had been beefed up.
Scene of conflict
Protesters chanting "Allahu Akbar" streamed into a sealed-off area of al-Aqsa Mosque during prayers Friday. Israeli police said the crowds that gathered dispersed peacefully after prayers.
The site is the third-holiest in Islam and a focus of Palestinian aspirations for statehood.
It is also the location of Judaism's most holy spot and a frequent scene of conflict between the two sides.
Jewish Israelis believe that the al-Aqsa Mosque compound was built on the site where the Second Temple once stood, and some far-right Israelis have called for the mosque's destruction to make way for a new Jewish Temple.
Muslim worshippers' access to Al Aqsa and the adjoining Dome of the Rock is controlled by Israeli security forces.
Any Israeli move seen by Palestinians as seeking to increase Israel's presence there is liable to ignite Muslim anger.
There have been scuffles there for the past few days after Israeli authorities padlocked a door, known as the Golden Gate or Gate of Mercy in Arabic, to disused offices.
The offices were closed by an Israeli court order in 2003, police say, after the Palestinian group that used them was accused of conducting "political activities".
Video posted on social media showed Muslim officials praying there last week in defiance of the court ban, raising the ire of Israeli authorities. Israeli police accused the Waqf, the Islamic authority that oversees the compound, of attempting to "change the status quo" at the sensitive site by convening in the closed area.
Palestinian worshippers performed their prayers outside the gate to pressure Israeli police into reopening the gate.
In videos circulated in local media, Israeli police were seen beating and physically assaulting Palestinian worshippers as they attempted to enter the site.
Police said they arrested five people on Monday and 19 on Tuesday over the scuffles.
In Gaza, a Palestinian teenager was killed Friday by Israeli fire during clashes along the fence separating the besieged enclave, the Hamas-run health ministry said.
Yussef al-Daya, 14, was hit in the chest to the east of Gaza City, ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.
Around 30 other Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire in rallies along the frontier, he added.
The Israeli army said around 8,000 Palestinians demonstrated at various points along the border, without commenting on the teenager's death.
The protesters set tyres ablaze and threw grenades, incendiary devices and stones towards Israeli soldiers, an army spokesperson alleged.
Israeli forces "responded with anti-riot means and shot according to the operational procedures," they said.
At least 251 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since March 2018, the majority shot during weekly border protests and others hit by tank fire or air strikes.
Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.
The protests in Gaza are mostly against the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory. Citing security concerns, Israel and Egypt imposed tight restrictions on movements of people and goods in and out of Gaza after the militant Hamas group wrested control of the territory in 2007.
Hamas has arranged weekly demonstrations since last March to protest the blockade and demand the return of Palestinian refugees to land their families were expelled from, by Jewish immigrants from Europe, in the 1948 war that founded the modern Israeli state.
Israel says it defends its frontier against breaches. Critics accuse Israel of employing excessive force against unarmed Palestinians.