At least three Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli security forces near the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City.
There have been daily confrontations since metal detectors were placed outside the compound last week.
Muslim men under the age of 50 have also been barred from entering the holy site.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said Mohammed Sharaf, 17, and Mohammad Hassan Abu Ghannam, age unknown, died of gunshot wounds in two neighborhoods of East Jerusalem further away from the center 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.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said four officers were injured in the unrest and the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service said at least 377 protesters had been hurt, some suffering from tear gas inhalation.
The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered the suspension of all official contact with Israel until it removes the security measures.
“I declare the suspension of all contacts with the Israeli side on all levels until it cancels its measures at Al-Aqsa mosque and preserves the status quo,” Abbas said in a brief televised speech after meeting his aides.
The restrictions were imposed after 2 Israeli police officers and 3 Palestinians were killed in an attack at the site seven days ago.
The Palestinian group Hamas and Muslim leaders worldwide called for mass protests on Friday over the measures.
Despite international pressure to remove the detectors, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet has 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 compound.
They refused to enter, preferring to pray outside, in some cases filling the narrow alleyways of the Old City’s Muslim quarter.
“We reject Israeli restrictions at the Aqsa Mosque,” said Jerusalem’s senior Muslim cleric, Grand Mufti Mohammad Hussein.
The hilltop compound has long been a source of religious friction. Since Israel captured and annexed the Old City, including the compound, in the 1967 Middle East war, it has also become a symbol of Palestinian nationalism. “This is our place of prayer, we have sovereignty here,” Salaam said.
Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East, appealed for calm and the White House called for a resolution. Jordan, the custodian of the holy site, has also been involved in mediation efforts.
Far-right members of Netanyahu’s government – which relies on religious, rightist and pro-settler parties for support – had publicly urged him to keep the restrictions in place.
“Israel is committed to maintaining the status quo at the Temple Mount and the freedom of access to the holy places,” the security cabinet said in a statement.
“The cabinet has authorized the police to take any decision in order to ensure free access to the holy places while maintaining security and public order.”
In 2000, a visit to the site by then-Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon triggered clashes that spiraled into the second Palestinian intifada (uprising) in which about 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis died in four years of violence.
Consul General of Palestine: Aggression on the Aqsa will lead to a global religious war
The Consul General of the State of Palestine in Alexandria, Ambassador Hossam Dabbas condemned the brutal aggression against the Palestinian people on their land, especially in Jerusalem and the surroundings of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and its exposure to the worst types of Zionist aggression.
Al-Dabbas said in a statement that Israeli occupation behavior is in any way a violation of religious rights and sanctity of holy sites. They closed Al-Aqsa Mosque and prevented it from praying and desecrating it for the first time since its occupation in 1967.
Dabbas warned that this aggression on Al-Aqsa Mosque will lead to a religious war not only in Palestine, but in the world as a whole.
King Abdullah II of Jordan and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, who are exerting great effort and communicating with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to end the aggression against the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Palestinian people, paid tribute to the Arab leaders.
He appealed to the entire Arab and Islamic nation, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the United Nations and the relevant international bodies to immediately intervene to stop this blatant and unspeakable aggression.
He called on the world to stand in front of its responsibilities to stop Israel’s arrogance and arrogance, which is hitting all international resolutions and conventions.
He also called on human rights and media organizations to take their stand in support of the right and those who are close to the gates of Al-Aqsa and are deprived of their most basic human rights and to expose the Zionist violations in Palestine in general and Jerusalem in particular.
He pointed out that Palestine is daily and systematically subjected to state terrorism aimed at the forced displacement of the population through the demolition of houses, the confiscation of land, racial discrimination and arrests, the imposition of a deplorable situation of separation and the racist siege and the continuous targeting of their civil and religious rights.
He extended his greetings to the Palestinian people, who are both Muslims and Christians, who together defend Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, the capital of the independent Palestinian state.