World Bulletin/News Desk
Israeli forces forcibly dispersed weekly demonstrations by Palestinians in parts of the West Bank Friday, eyewitnesses have said.
Israeli forces fired teargas, stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of Palestinians who had attempted to march on Jerusalem from Ramallah city through Israel's Qalandia checkpoint, eyewitnesses told Anadolu Agency.
Palestinian protesters responded by throwing rocks, petrol bombs and empty bottles at Israeli forces, eyewitnesses added.
Dozens of Palestinians suffered teargas inhalations during the confrontations, according to eyewitnesses.
Around 500 Muslim worshippers performed the weekly Friday prayers near Qalandia checkpoint after failing to reach East Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.
Following the prayers, Palestinian protesters shouted slogans opposed to Israeli restrictions on the entry of Muslim worshippers inside the complex.
Israeli forces also forcibly dispersed dozens of Palestinians who attempted to enter Jerusalem through the eastern Hizma checkpoint, according to eyewitnesses.
Clashes broke out between anti-occupation Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces in several other parts of the West Bank, they added.
Israeli forces fired stun grenades and teargas to disperse Palestinians protesting the construction of Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land and Israel's "separation wall," the Popular Resistance Committee said in a statement.
Palestinians stage weekly protests on Friday against ongoing Israeli settlement building and the separation wall, which snakes across the occupied West Bank, isolating large swathes of Palestinian territory.
Israeli authorities dropped age limitations on access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday amid heightened tension in the holy city.
The decision came shortly after a meeting in Amman between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
A top American diplomat also said “steps had been agreed upon to lower tensions between Israel and the Palestinians over Jerusalem’s holy site,” according to Israeli media.
Tension has run high in East Jerusalem since late last month, when Israel closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for several hours after an extremist rabbi was injured in a West Jerusalem drive-by shooting.
Unrest mounted further when Israeli forces killed a young Palestinian man suspected of shooting the rabbi in a raid on his East Jerusalem home.
Further aggravating the situation, a number of Israeli parliamentarians have forced their way into the mosque complex in recent days and weeks, drawing the ire of Muslim worshippers and official condemnation from Arab and Muslim countries.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.
In September 2000, a visit to Al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon triggered what later became known as the "Second Intifada," a popular uprising against Israel's decades-long occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.
Last Mod: 14 Kasım 2014, 17:18