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Jerusalemites observe strike in mourning for slain Palestinian demonstrators

July 22, 2017 4:59 P.M. (Updated: July 24, 2017 1:22 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem observed a commercial strike on Saturday, after three young men from the area were shot dead the previous day while taking part in mass demonstrations against Israeli security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Silwan resident 18-year-old Muhammad Sharaf was shot and killed during clashes in the Ras al-Amoud area, with witnesses saying that the young man was shot in the neck by an Israeli settler who opened fire on protesters.

Muhammad Abu Ghannam, 20, succumbed to his wounds in al-Makassed hospital east of the Old City after being shot by Israeli police forces during clashes in the al-Tur neighborhood, where he was from.

Muhammad Lafi, 17, also referred to as Muhammad Khalaf, succumbed to his wounds in a hospital in Ramallah after having been shot in the chest by Israeli army forces during a demonstration in the village of Abu Dis in the Jerusalem district of the West Bank.

Palestinians had rushed to bury their bodies and held the funerals immediately. Young men were filmed hauling Abu Ghannam’s body over a wall to avoid Israeli forces confiscating it, as Israeli authorities commonly seize and withhold the remains of slain Palestinians and prevent their families from burying them to use the bodies as bargaining chips.

While a partial strike was observed in Jerusalem and the Old City, Palestinians in al-Tur and Silwan held a comprehensive strike in honor of Sharaf and Abu Ghannam.
Partial strike observed in Jerusalem’s Old City

Hundreds of Palestinians performed dhuhr (midday) prayers at the Lions’ Gate and Council Gate entrance to Al-Aqsa Mosque, maintaining the civil disobedience measures against the metal detectors installed at the mosque that had triggered clashes with Israeli forces on Friday.

The Israeli security measures, which also included additional surveillance cameras, were installed following a shoot-out in the compound that left three Palestinian assailants and two Israeli policeman dead on July 14.

In the days following the new security measures, Jerusalemites boycotted the mosque and accused Israel of impeding their rights to freedom to worship at the holy site, which is also a national symbol for Palestinians.
Palestinians perform dhuhr prayers outside of Al-Aqsa on Saturday

While the demonstrations leading up to Friday were suppressed by Israeli police causing dozens of injuries over the course of the week, the protests erupted into fierce clashes on Friday as religious leaders called on all Palestinians in Jerusalem to pray near Al-Aqsa.

Some 3,000 Palestinians also attempting to pray outdoors in solidarity with Jerusalemites across the occupied Palestinian territory and were met with thousands of Israeli troops who launched attacks on the unarmed protesters.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said it had treated some 110 Palestinians in Jerusalem, among a total of over 450 Palestinians who were injured during clashes in the West Bank over the course of Friday. Among them were 23 live fire injuries, 147 rubber-coated steel bullets injuries, 65 fracture injuries due to assaults by Israeli forces, and 215 tear-gas inhalation cases.

Over the course of Friday and continuing overnight, Israeli police detained at least 33 Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank for taking part in protests, according to Israeli police.

Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri reported Saturday afternoon that stones were thrown at Israeli police in al-Tur and also near the Israeli military checkpoint outside of Shufat refugee camp in northern Jeruaslem. She said Israeli police and border guard officers responded with "riot-dispersal means" and said no injuries were reported.

Later early in the evening, she said "masked" men hurled stones at police again in al-Tur, stones and Molotov cocktails were thrown at police near Mount of Olives, rocks were thrown and burning tired were rolled off cliffs in Issawiya, and dozens of "rioters" threw stones at police at the Shufat checkpoint, with each case being met with riot-dispersal means.

The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the "Judaization" of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass demolitions of Palestinian homes.
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