JERUSALEM • Three Palestinians were killed in east Jerusalem yesterday as clashes broke out in the Old City over new security measures at a highly sensitive holy site.
At least two of them died of gunshot wounds, according to reports.
Clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians erupted around Jerusalem's Old City yesterday over new security measures at the Haram al-Sharif mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
The unrest came after Israeli ministers decided not to order the removal of metal detectors erected at entrances to the compound, following an attack nearby that killed two policemen a week ago.
In anticipation of protests yesterday, Israeli police barred men under 50 from entering Jerusalem's Old City for prayers, but women were allowed in.
Police said later in the day that discretion could be applied in the use of the metal detectors instead of forcing everyone to go through them.
But Palestinian and religious leaders called on worshippers not to enter until they were removed.
Hundreds held midday prayers near the gates of the Old City in protest.
According to police, dozens of people entered the compound. Crowds gathered outside Jerusalem's Old City found shops closed and streets around Damascus Gate - the entrance most heavily used by Palestinians - blocked.
A group of several hundred people marched towards the Lions Gate entrance to the mosque compound, but police informed them that only men aged 50 or over would be allowed in.
Police later fired stun grenades and tear gas towards protesters outside the Old City, while Palestinians threw stones and other objects at security forces in some areas.
The Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service said at least 30 people had been hurt, two seriously.
The controversy has resonated beyond Israel and the Palestinian territories, with the United States and the United Nations' Middle East envoy expressing concern.
In the Gaza Strip, Islamist movement Hamas called for a day of "rage" yesterday. In the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, Palestinians also prayed outside in support of the Al-Aqsa protests.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS