PALESTINIANS in east Jerusalem have gone on strike in protest at Israeli restrictions on entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a sensitive holy site sacred to Jews and Muslims.
Israel took the unprecedented step yesterday of preventing Palestinians from entering Jerusalem’s Old City, where the compound is located, after two Palestinian stabbing attacks in the city killed two Israelis and wounded three others, including a toddler.
The ban does not apply to Palestinians who live, work or study in the Old City, but shops inside its walls, including stores popular with tourists, closed down in protest. Shops in other Arab area in east Jerusalem were also closed. Few people could be seen at the usually bustling Damascus Gate, the main entrance to the Old City in Arab east Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, the head of a West Bank Jewish settler council has set up a protest tent in front of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem, vowing not to leave until the government returns a sense of security to Israelis.
Samaria regional council head Yossi Dagan yesterday called on Israel to accelerate settlement building in the West Bank, saying: “If we are always concerned with what people will say, we will not build, and blood will flow like water.”
Tensions have soared in Jerusalem and the West Bank after the stabbings. Both assailants, who were Palestinian teenagers, were shot dead.
Relatives of one teen behind yesterday’s attack identified him as Fadi Alloun, 19, from Arab East Jerusalem. He had written on his Facebook page: “Either martyrdom or victory.”
A Palestinian medic said Israeli troops had shot and wounded at least 18 Palestinians during clashes in the West Bank.
The clashes broke out as troops surrounded the home of another Palestinian suspect in the Jenin refugee camp. Eyewitnesses say Israeli troops fired a “small missile” at the house to force the suspect out.
Monther Irshaid, director of the Khalil Suliman Hospital in Jenin, told reporters two people had suffered serious leg injuries.