Palestinians clash with Israeli troops again over holy site
GAZA: Palestinian protesters fought with Israeli security forces in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank on Friday, the latest clashes in a fortnight of violence over access to Jerusalem’s holiest site.
At the Qalandia checkpoint separating Ramallah from Jerusalem, troops fired rubber bullets as several hundred protesters marched, some throwing rocks and petrol bombs.
In East Jerusalem, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters hurling firecrackers and burning tires that sent up huge clouds of black smoke in Shoafat refugee camp.
Palestinian and regional anger, still simmering over Israel’s war with Gaza’s Hamas movement in July and August, has focused in the last two weeks on Jerusalem’s holiest site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount.
For decades, Israel has maintained a ban on Jews praying at the site, which houses the Dome of the Rock and the 8th-century Al-Aqsa mosque and was also the site of ancient Jewish temples.
But in recent weeks, protests have gathered momentum against a campaign by far-right Jewish nationalists to be allowed to pray there.
Israeli security forces have clashed at the compound with Muslim worshippers angry at what they see as an assault on the shrine, which is administered by Islamic authorities, and last week Israel shut down all access to the site for the first time in more than a decade, after a Palestinian gunman shot an Israeli ultranationalist. Palestinian drivers have rammed into Israeli pedestrians in the city, killing four people.