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Palestinian teen dead after Jerusalem clashes

May 13, 2011 7:58 P.M. (Updated: May 15, 2011 1:01 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian teenager shot during clashes in Jerusalem on Friday died of his wounds, hospital officials told Ma'an Saturday.

Milad Ayyash, 16, sustained a gunshot wound to the stomach at a demonstration in the Ras Al-Amud area, medics told Ma'an.

He was transferred to the Al-Maqasid Hospital suffering from serious internal bleeding, Red Crescent officials said. Initial reports suggested the Palestinian youth had been shot by live bullets.

On Friday, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld insisted that no live ammunition was used, either by settlers or police. He said he knew a teenager had been taken to hospital but with only a light injury and the cause unknown.

An uncle of the teenager, Maher Ayyash told AFP by phone from the East Jerusalem hospital that his nephew died "after being shot in the stomach, we are taking the body for burial now."

Another relative said that the Ayyash was shot by a Jewish settler in the flashpoint neighborhood of Silwan.

The teenager was wounded as police cracked down on rallies to commemorate the Nakba, the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes during the establishment of Israel in 1948.

A Palestinian Red Crescent spokesman said they had treated nine people. A second youth from Silwan was hit in the genitals by rubber bullets, the spokesman added, without giving details about the other injuries.

Other medics put the injury toll higher. An official at Al-Maqasid Hospital said "nearly 30 people" were injured in clashes which broke out following the weekly Friday prayers in Isawiya, At-Tur and Ras Al-Amud -- all areas flanking Jerusalem's Old City

Witnesses said Israeli forces shot a young man in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet, and a woman was shot in the back with a tear-gas grenade by her home in At-Tur neighborhood.

Locals said 20 young Palestinians were injured as police opened fire with rubber bullets at stone-throwing youths in Silwan.

Police and youths also clashed in the city's Shuafat refugee camp, where demonstrators burnt Israeli flags while waving Palestinian flags, a camp official told AFP.

Police said they arrested 34 Palestinians youths in Jerusalem on Friday, alongside another 16 who had been detained on Wednesday and Thursday.

Al-Aqsa 'under siege'

Thousands of Israeli police flooded the streets of Jerusalem on Friday as Palestinians began marking the "Nakba" or "catastrophe" that befell them following Israel's establishment in 1948.

Hundreds of Palestinians were left outside the gates of the walled Old City, with police refusing to admit men under 45 who did not hold a blue Israeli identity card, AFP correspondents said.

Sheikh Azzam Khatib, head of Islamic holy places in Jerusalem, told AFP only 8,000 worshipers had reached Al-Aqsa mosque -- about a third of the normal turnout on a Friday.

"Today, more than any other day, we felt as if the mosque was under siege," he told AFP. "Closing the gates of the city and the gates of the mosque, and imposing age restrictions makes people feel uncomfortable. It makes the area feel like a military base."

Palestinians who were denied entry to Jerusalem to pray at Al-Aqsa mosque clashed with Israeli forces at the Qalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem.

Witnesses said clashes lasted over three hours, as around 20 Palestinians threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli troops, and Israeli soldiers fired tear-gas grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets.

An army statement said Israeli forces responded to stone-throwing with "riot dispersal means" without elaborating.

Nakba marked across region

Refugees in Jordan also marked the Nakba with around 10,000 people gathering in the Jordan Valley town of Karemeh, holding large Jordanian and Palestinian flags, and raised banners reading "Palestinian refugees will return."

In Amman, nearly 700 people marched through the city center chanting "Palestine, Palestine, the refugees promise you to return!"

In Cairo, thousands gathered outside the Israeli embassy, shouting "Millions of martyrs to Jerusalem" and calling for Egypt's military rulers to cut ties with Israel.

And the Egyptian army blocked access to the Sinai peninsula in the east of the country to prevent a pro-Palestinian march from Cairo to the Gaza Strip planned for Saturday.

Weekend rallies to commemorate expulsion

Palestinians have organized a series of rallies and marches in the run-up to Nakba Day, which will be commemorated on Sunday.

Activists behind "The Third Intifada" website were also urging people to march towards homes from which they fled or were forced out of when Israel was created in 1948.

Israeli police said they stepped up checks on anyone coming in from the West Bank to occupied East Jerusalem, and the military said its troops were on alert.

"The army is prepared for any unusual event during the coming weekend," a spokeswoman told AFP.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said he expected that police would be out in strength on Saturday.

"I should imagine that there will be large number of police around east Jerusalem," he said. "We'll be assessing the situation constantly."

Israel celebrated the 63rd anniversary of its creation on Tuesday, in accordance with the Hebrew calendar.

More than 760,000 Palestinians -- estimated today to number 4.7 million with their descendants -- fled or were driven out of their homes in the conflict that followed Israel's creation.

Around 160,000 Palestinians stayed behind and became known as Arab Israelis. They now number around 1.3 million people, which is about 20 percent of Israel's population.

Despite a UN resolution mandating the refugees' right to return, Israel has always refused to let them return, insisting they would threaten the Jewish majority in the state, which now counts some 5.8 million Jewish citizens.

AFP contributed to this report.
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