AMMAN: Shops and offices in the city of Jerusalem and surrounding towns and villages were shuttered Saturday as Palestinians heeded calls for three days of mourning and a commercial strike in protest over Israel’s killing of three Palestinians.
Al-Aqsa Mosque remained closed. The closure followed a day of violence on Friday, in which worshippers clashed with Israeli security forces outside Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, amid uproar prompted by the installation of metal detectors at its entry point.
A Palestinian man wounded in clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank on Saturday died of his injuries, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. It said 17-year-old Oday Nawajaa had been hit by live fire and critically wounded in Al-Azariya north of Jerusalem.
Another Palestinian, 18, died nearby when a petrol bomb exploded prematurely.
In New York, diplomats said the UN Security Council will meet on Monday to discuss the bloodiest spate of Israeli-Palestinian violence for years.
Sweden, Egypt and France requested the meeting to “urgently discuss how calls for de-escalation in Jerusalem can be supported,” Sweden’s Deputy UN Ambassador Carl Skau posted on Twitter.
In Ramallah, Palestinians in the village of Kobar braced themselves for collective punishment, including further home demolitions, as the Israeli military moved into the village to take revenge for three Israeli settlers from the nearby Halmish settlement who were allegedly killed by Omar Abdel Jalil Al-Abed, a Palestinian from the village.
Al-Abed, 20, was shot after the attack but survived. His father said he believes his son was upset over the loss of Palestinian lives and wanted to protect the “honor” of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
In a moving testimony written by Al-Abed before the operation, he talked about his dreams and hopes in life but said that he could not sit still while Palestinians were killed and Al-Aqsa was closed. “All I have is a knife which I will use to meet the call of Al-Aqsa if the (Israeli) occupiers refuse to open it,” he said.
Despite the general strike in Jerusalem, Palestinians continued to carry out their daily prayers at various locations just outside the holy mosque.
Naser Sharif, one of the 250 Waqf guards attached to the Jordanian trust that administers the mosque and its surrounding area, told Arab News that hundreds of Jerusalemites continued to pray at the nearest Israel checkpoint to the mosque.
“The local community, including those in charge of St. Anne’s Church at Lions’ Gate, has been supporting us as we stand up to our rights to have free access to our own mosque,” he said.
Sharif, the waqf guard, told Arab News that he and his colleagues are ready to wear their uniforms and return to work the moment Israel removed the metal detectors.
He said there is expectation that the Israeli security Cabinet meeting late Saturday night might make such an announcement. “But we are ready for all possibilities,” he said, noting that a similar expectation last Thursday did not materialize.
Naser told Arab News that he noticed an important change on Saturday. “Extremist Israelis usually come by every Saturday morning and make a provocative stop outside every one of the gates of Al-Aqsa, but today they were nowhere to be seen,” he said.
Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman “demanded” that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemn the attack on the Jewish settlers near Ramallah.
Abbas had announced late Friday night that the Palestinian leadership has decided to “suspend” contacts with Israelis “at all levels.”