BIRZEIT, Palestine: Israeli soldiers shot and wounded five Palestinians in clashes in the West Bank Friday, medics said, after the funeral of a man killed during an army raid.
Clashes broke out between stone-throwing Palestinians and Israeli troops at the Atara checkpoint near the town of Birzeit shortly after the funeral, and medics said five people suffered bullet wounds to the legs.
The army said some 200 Palestinians began throwing stones at Israeli forces, who used “riot dispersal means” against them, including live fire “against the main instigators.”
The clashes came after Motazz Washaha was found dead in his home in Birzeit following a Thursday morning raid by the army, which said he was “suspected of terror activity.”
Some 4,000 mourners attended Washaha’s funeral at Birzeit, north of the West Bank administrative center of Ramallah, calling on Palestinian factions to unite and avenge Washaha’s killing.
He was identified by neighbors as a member of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the movement’s red flags were visible at the funeral.
Washaha’s death came as Amnesty International criticized Israel’s killing of dozens of Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank over the past three years.
In East Jerusalem, meanwhile, Israeli security forces clashed with stone-throwing Palestinians after the weekly Friday prayers.
Police arrested three Palestinians in Ras al-Amud, just outside the Old City, an army spokeswoman said.
Police had barred men under the age of 50 from attending prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, in order to prevent disturbance, and hundreds of Muslims prayed instead on streets adjacent to the Old City where the holy site is located.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said Thursday men under the age of 50 would be barred from Friday prayers, based on intelligence of plans for unrest, with security forces bolstering their presence in the area.
The decision comes after police also clashed with stone-throwing Palestinians at the compound Tuesday, hours ahead of a debate in the Israeli parliament on Jews’ right to pray at the compound which is currently denied.
The discussion, which did not result in a vote or any practical measures, sparked fury in the Muslim world, with the parliament of Jordan – the custodian of the site – voting to expel Israel’s envoy and its premier warning Amman might review its peace treaty with Israel.
And the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation Wednesday condemned the debate in Israel as a “dangerous escalation,” calling it part of Israel’s goal to “Judaize Jerusalem.”
The flashpoint compound sits above the Western Wall plaza and houses the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and is Islam’s third-holiest site.