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Israeli police remove east Jerusalem barricades after violent protests

Published: Updated:

Israeli police Sunday allowed Palestinians to access a promenade around Jerusalem's Israeli-annexed Old City, an AFP reporter said, in a move apparently aimed at easing tensions after days of clashes.

A few hundred Palestinians held a rally at the Damascus gate and police allowed them to remove barricades blocking access to the promenade, an AFP correspondent said. Police used a bullhorn to announce the area was open to all.

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There have been nightly disturbances since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on April 13, amid Palestinian anger over the blocked access.

A series of videos posted online have showed young Arabs attacking ultra-Orthodox Jews, and Jewish extremists taking to the streets to bully Arabs.

Tensions rose on Thursday when far-right Israeli demonstrators, enraged by a wave of Palestinian attacks on Jews in Jerusalem, marched to the Old City with chants of "death to Arabs".

Over 100 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with police and dozens were arrested.

The violence was the worst in years between Israeli police and Palestinians in the disputed Holy City, with Palestinians throwing stones and bottles at officers, who responded with stun grenades and water cannons.

Skirmishes broke out again on Friday after Muslim worshippers left Jerusalem's revered Al-Aqsa mosque following night prayers.

Palestinians had also targeted Jewish passers-by and motorists in and around east Jerusalem during the night riots, beating them and stoning their cars, with many of the attacks being posted on social media.

Jewish extremists in return took to the streets to bully Arabs, with police arresting dozens involved in the attacks.

Police, who had insisted the Damascus gate barricades were necessary, did not immediately respond to AFP queries on the change in policy Sunday.

Israeli media however reported the decision came following dialogue between the police and east Jerusalem leadership and shop owners.

Later Sunday, Palestinian militants fired a projectile "from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory," the Israeli army said.

"An alert was activated in open areas only," a statement from the military said, without providing further details.

Overnight Friday into Saturday, Palestinian militants in Gaza fired dozens of rockets at southern Israel, with the military wing of Hamas, the Islamist rulers of the Palestinian enclave, voicing support for the east Jerusalem protesters.

Read more:

Jerusalem tension triggers Gaza-Israel fire exchange

Clashes mark Ramadan nights in Jerusalem as Israeli police and Palestinians face off

PM Netanyahu calls for ‘calm’ after clashes in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem