Israel seals off West Bank

Closure imposed on occupied territory in anticipation of protests after Friday prayers.

    Only women and men over the age of 50 were allowed to enter al-Aqsa mosque on Friday [Reuters]

    "We heard from police that there was some Palestinians throwing rocks and they [police] told us they tried to calm the situation by using the least amount of force necessary," she said.

    "It has certainly been a tense day ... Hundreds of police and border guards were deployed in and around East Jerusalem."

    The al-Aqsa compound, known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and to Jews as the Temple Mount, has been the site of a number of violent incidents.

    Clashes erupted last week after Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, announced plans to include two sites in the West Bank on a list of Israeli heritage sites.

    Hebron clashes

    Besides Jerusalem, skirmishes also broke out after Friday prayers in the West Bank city of Hebron, but no serious injuries were reported.

    in depth

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      Settlements strain US-Israel ties
      Q&A: Jewish settlements

    "After protests last Friday and last Sunday, Israeli officials fear there could be more disturbances," our correspondent said.

    She said many Palestinians "want to make a point" about recent moves by Israel to expand settlements in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem.

    "They feel their presence in East Jerusalem is under attack, as is their access to religious sites," she said.

    Last week, the interior ministry announced plans to build 1,600 new Jewish homes in East Jerusalem.

    According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Jerusalem housing committee is planning to build another 50,000 Jewish homes in occupied East Jerusalem to join the hundreds of thousands already there or in progress.

    Israel occupied East Jerusalem after the 1967 Middle East war and built settlements that are illegal under international law to house more than 200,000 Israelis.

    The occupation has never been recognised by the international community.

    Palestinians denounce settlements in East Jerusalem, which they want to make the capital of their future state.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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