Six people have been killed in the bloodiest spate of Israeli-Palestinian violence for years, following new Israeli security measures at Jerusalem’s holiest site.
Three Israelis were stabbed to death in a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, hours after three Palestinians were killed.
The violence was prompted by Israel’s installation of metal detectors at entry points to the Noble Sanctuary-Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s walled Old City.
“On behalf of the Palestinian leadership I declare a freeze of contacts with the occupying state on all levels until Israel commits to cancelling its measures against our people in general and especially in Jerusalem city and Al-Aqsa mosque.”
Tensions have been mounted for days with Palestinians hurling rocks and Israeli police using stun grenades after the detectors were placed outside the sacred venue, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount.
Israel decided to install the metal detectors at the entry point to the shrine in Jerusalem’s walled Old City on Sunday, after the killing of two Israeli policemen on July 14.
Despite international pressure to remove the metal detectors, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet decided to keep them in place, saying they were needed to prevent arms being smuggled into the shrine.
In protest, thousands of worshipers gathered for Friday prayers at various entrances to the sacred compound. They refused to enter, preferring to pray outside, 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” against the new security policies, which they see as changing delicate agreements that have governed the holy site for decades.