Three Palestinians killed by gunfire in Bayt al-Muqaddas: Palestinian ministry

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Israeli police banned men under the age of 50 from entering one of Jerusalem's holiest sites as a security measure ahead of expected protests Friday.

The site was the epicenter of last week's terrorist attack, in which three men between the ages of 19 and 29 attacked Israeli police officers and carried out a gun battle with security forces before being killed.

Muslims have been boycotting the holy site after Israeli authorities installed metal detectors and cameras at entrances to the sensitive compound following an attack Friday that killed two policemen.

Israeli authorities closed down the Al-Aqsa compound and canceled weekly Friday prayers for the first time in almost five decades, following a shootout last week that left three Palestinians and two Israeli policemen dead near the flashpoint holy site in East Jerusalem.

He stressed that Israel was maintaining and would continue to maintain the status quo at the holy sites, adding that the steps taken on the Temple Mount were meant to ensure that such acts of terror could not be repeated, and that Israel was committed to safeguarding the lives of all the citizens who visited the holy places, the statement said.

"I want to tell Israel and the world that if Israel wants peace they have to immediately remove the metal doors and other security obstacles they put in the last week", he told regional news site Middle East Eye on Thursday.

Far-right members of Netanyahu's government have publicly urged him to keep the devices in place at the flashpoint site, but Israeli media reports said security chiefs were divided over the issue amid concerns of wider protests in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

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Meanwhile, the polling for the President election is underway at the Parliament and the various state Assemblies. A total of 16 new bills are slated to be introduced in both the houses for consideration and passage.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas has called for mass protests on Friday against Israeli metal detectors placed at a contested Jerusalem holy site. Police say that the metal detectors will be used selectively. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' political party, Fatah, organized Friday's "day of rage".

The mosque lies on a hill known as the Haram esh-Sharif to the Palestinians and the Temple Mount in Israel.

Palestinian and Islamic leaders have fiercely objected to the installation of the metal detectors, saying it is a violation of the status quo. Visitors to the Western Wall plaza must go through metal detectors to enter the site.

"Let Friday be a turning point in the battle in the defence of Jerusalem and Al Aqsa", Haniyeh said in a televised speech.

Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations special coordinator for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, called for calm.

"We are anxious about any change to [the] historical (Status Quo) situation in al-Aqsa Mosque (Haram ash-Sharif) and its courtyard, and in the holy city of Jerusalem", they write.

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