Palestinians try to breach East Jerusalem checkpoint
IDF seals off West Bank for 48 hours; Israel forces arrest one Palestinian for assaulting police.
Palestinian youths on Friday hurled stones at Israeli security forces near the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem and tried to breach a barrier to gain entry to the area, which has been sealed off amid concerns over violence.
Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen on Friday discussed the increased police presence in the area saying, "The deployment of police and extra security forces in Jerusalem at this hour is in line with the situation."
Police forces managed to prevent the youths from breaching the Ras el-Amoud checkpoint near East Jerusalem, and one Palestinian was arrested after he assaulted a police officer.
Four other Palestinians were detained on suspicion of throwing stones and two officers were slightly injured in Jerusalem, a police spokesman said. Reuters journalists saw one protester treated by medics.
As hundreds of youths streamed away from noon prayers at a mosque in the district of Ras el-Amoud, a Reuters journalist saw men hurl stones at a car carrying Orthodox Jewish children. One rock smashed a side window, but there were no obvious injuries.
Islamists in the blockaded Gaza Strip rallied supporters to protest at Israel's policies in Jerusalem: "We will redeem al-Aqsa mosque with our souls and our blood," the crowd chanted.
As demonstrators burned U.S. and Israeli flags, Khalil al-Hayya, a leader of the Hamas movement which rules Gaza, urged Hamas' rival, West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to reverse his decision to engage in "proximity talks" with Israel through U.S. mediators after a hiatus of 15 months.
"These direct and indirect negotiations provide a cover to the Zionist aggression against our people and our lands," Hayya told the crowd. "Our angry people now are calling on the Palestinian negotiator to back off from these negotiations which encourage more settlements and the Judaization of Jerusalem."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on hursday ordered the Israel Defense Forces to impose a general closure on the West Bank, preventing Palestinians from entering Israel.
Barak said only patients, medical staff, religious workers and teachers with special permits to pass through army roadblocks on key access roads.
"The IDF will continue to operate in order to protect the citizens of Israel while maintaining the quality of life of the Palestinian population in the area," it said in a statement.
The West Bank will be sealed off for 48 hours, and the closure will be lifted on Saturday at midnight.
Police say only men over 50 will be allowed to pray Friday at the Temple Mount, while no limitations were placed on women.
Also on Friday, hundreds of Palestinians hurled stones at Israel Border Police to protest Israel's separation fence in villages near Ramallah.
On Tuesday, the Interior Ministry announced its decision to authorize 1,600 more housing units in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo in East Jerusalem. The announcement created a diplomatic uproar and received stark condemnation from visiting United States Vice President Joe Biden.
There have been clashes after Friday prayers at mosques in Jerusalem and elsewhere in recent weeks, sparked by deadlock in peace talks and Israel's inclusion of two West Bank shrines on a list of national heritage sites.
On Friday last week, youths hurled rocks from the Temple Mount, on which the al-Aqsa Mosque stands, at Jewish worshippers praying at the Wailing Wall beneath the elevated compound.
Police responded by storming the open-air plateau to disperse the protesting crowd and some 60 Palestinians were treated for the effects of teargas, while 15 policemen were lightly wounded by stones.
Several Palestinians have been badly wounded and dozens of protesters and Israeli policemen have suffered light injuries.
The closure began at midnight Thursday and will end at midnight Saturday.