Clashes erupt at Jerusalem shrine, 3 dead

Luke Baker and Ori Lewis
AAP

Palestinian worshippers have clashed with Israeli security forces outside a Jerusalem shrine in violence prompted by the installation of metal detectors at its entry point, and at least three Palestinians have been killed.

There have been daily confrontations between Palestinians hurling rocks and Israeli police using stun grenades since the detectors were placed outside the sacred venue, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, on Sunday, following the killing of two Israeli policemen.

The shrine includes the al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam, and the golden Dome of the Rock. It was also the site of an ancient Jewish temple, the holiest place in Judaism.

On Friday the Palestinian Health Ministry said Mohammed Sharaf, 17, and Mohammad Hassan Abu Ghannam, age unknown, died of gunshot wounds in two neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem somewhat away from the epicentre of tension in the walled Old City. It reported a third Palestinian fatality, Mohammed Lafi, 18, later.

It was not immediately clear who fired the shots, with unconfirmed media reports that an Israeli from a settlement in the nearby occupied West Bank was responsible in Sharaf's death.

Israel's Channel 10 reported that a child of eight had died from tear gas inhalation, but that could not be confirmed.

Despite international pressure to remove the metal detectors, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet decided in Friday's early hours to keep them in place, saying they were needed to prevent arms being smuggled into the shrine.

In protest, thousands of worshippers gathered for Friday prayers at various entrances to the sacred compound, which sits on a marble and stone plateau in the Old City. They refused to enter, preferring to pray outside, in some cases filling the narrow alleyways of the Old City's Muslim quarter.

Muslim leaders and Palestinian political factions had urged the faithful to gather for a "day of rage" on Friday against the new security policies, which they see as changing delicate agreements that have governed the holy site for decades.

But by early afternoon, with police mobilising extra units and placing barriers to carry out checks at entrances to the Old City, there had been little serious violence. Access to the shrine for Muslims was limited to men over 50 but open to women of all ages. Roadblocks were in place on approach roads to Jerusalem to stop buses carrying Muslims to the site.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said four officers were injured in the sporadic clashes and the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service said at least 377 protesters had been hurt, some suffering from tear gas inhalation.