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Palestinians protest in West Bank town

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Violent confrontations between Palestinians and the Israeli police have erupted in Qalandiya in the occupied West Bank despite a move by Israel to ease tensions over al-Aqsa Mosque.

Israeli police have been firing tear gas and stun grenades at the protesters who are throwing stones.

Friday’s violence in Qalandiya follows weeks of unrest in Israel and the occupied territories, and comes despite a pledge by Israel to lift age restrictions on Muslims praying at al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem.

Men of all ages will be allowed to attend the main weekly Muslim prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque compound for the first time in “months”, a police spokesman said.

“No age limit on the Temple Mount, we’re hoping things will be calm and quiet today,” Mickey Rosenfeld told AFP news agency on Friday, using the Jewish term for the Old City holy site known as Haram al-Sharif by Palestinians.

Al Jazeera’s Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from West Jerusalem, said the lifting of age restrictions was likely to be welcomed by the Palestinians but they had many other grievances.

“Since this July, over 800 people have been arrested in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem alone,” he said.

“Close to 2,000 security personnel patrol that relatively confined part of the city on any given day.”

‘Firm commitments’ made

The lifting of age restrictions followed talks in Jordan on Thursday involving King Abdullah; John Kerry, US secretary of state; and Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister.

“Firm commitments” were made to maintain the status quo at al-Aqsa compound, Kerry announced.

He said Israel and Jordan, which has custodial rights over al-Aqsa Mosque, had also agreed to take steps to “de-escalate the situation” in Jerusalem and to “restore confidence”.

Israel has regularly used age limits for Muslim men to restrict access to al-Aqsa Mosque site.

Palestinians have also been angered by a far-right Jewish campaign for prayer rights at the mosque compound, although Israel insists it has no plans to change the decades-old status quo.

The unrest in East Jerusalem has in recent days spread to other parts of the occupied West Bank and Arab communities across Israel, raising fears of a new Palestinian uprising.

Thursday’s trilateral meeting in Jordan came a day after Israel approved plans for 200 new homes in a settlement in East Jerusalem, a move sharply criticised by the US.

Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law. Al Jazeera

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