Israeli forces killed six Palestinians Friday in clashes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that drew charges of "murder" and "terrorism" from a top Palestinian official.
The rest of the day threatened to be a tense one, as it is the third weekly day of prayers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and also comes a day after the 13th anniversary of the founding of the Islamic militant movement Hamas and calls for more violence.
Early Friday, the Israeli army delivered to the Rafidiyeh hospital in Nablus the bodies of three Palestinians killed in the village of Tel, just outside the city.
Abd al-Moayn Hassan Ibrahim, 23, and Mohammed Abdel Latif, 20, both residents of Tel, were killed overnight in clashes with Israeli troops near a road reserved for Jewish settlers, witnesses said.
They said the third, Saeed Ibrahim al-Kharuf, a 35-year-old businessman, was killed by Israeli troops as he searched for one of his trucks, which had broken down on the road.
Khalil Arida, who was accompanying Kharuf, was wounded and taken away by the Israeli army, the sources said.
Separately, a Palestinian was shot dead during clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and Jewish settlers near the West Bank city of Nablus, a Palestinian medical source said.
Mohammed Faruq Daoud, 17, was hit in the chest with a bullet in the town of Hareth, southwest of Nablus.
His death brings to six the number of Palestinians killed in violence Friday in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Earlier, Palestinian policeman Nihad Hintish, 28, was killed in clashes in Beit Rima after a Jewish settler from Halamish was wounded by Israeli fire, the source.
Another policeman, Khalil Mazhoun, was gravely wounded in the neck.
In the Gaza Strip's Erez industrial complex, a Palestinian worker was killed by Israeli fire, another source said.
The Israeli army, who did not identify the victim, said the man had threatened soldiers with a knife before being shot, the source said.
Palestinian information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo soundly condemned the killings, particularly those of the three men in Nablus.
"What happened in Nablus is another proof that the Israeli army has no other method than assassination and terrorism," Abed Rabbo told AFP, adding that the "Palestinian people will know how to respond to these crimes, for which the perpetrators will have to pay the price."
The deaths bring to 333 the number of people killed since violence broke out in Israel and the Palestinian territories on September 28. That includes 281 Palestinians, 13 Arab Israelis, 38 Israelis and a German.
Meanwhile, Hamas marked its 13th anniversary Thursday with a call to pursue the violent uprising against Israeli occupation.
"Holy war is the only way to assure victory," Hamas said in a statement issued in Gaza.
The group, which plans a birthday rally in Gaza on Friday, denounced moves to relaunch the peace process and the establishment of an international fact-finding commission as "desperate attempts to save the Zionists."
Hamas also urged Palestinians to pray in large numbers at Jerusalem's holy sites.
As a result of the raging tension in the territories, however, Israeli forces took strong precautions by stepping up security around the entrances of the Holy Haram.
Israeli police on horseback charged a group of youths throwing stones near the Damascus Gate in the Old City of occupied east Jerusalem Friday morning, an AFP photographer witnessed.
The police had begun to disperse the youths, who were kneeling down in the street for weekly prayers on this third Friday in the holy month of Ramadan, when the stone-throwing began.
The youths had been banned from entering east Jerusalem's mosque compound for prayers by a re-imposed bar on anyone under age 35.
On Thursday, Israel chose to reimpose age restrictions on Palestinians who wish to pray at the Haram al-Sharif mosque compound in occupied east Jerusalem, following the death of one 16-year-old Palestinian and injuries to 20 others last week.
Only Palestinians and Israeli Arabs older then 35 years will be granted access to the Haram al-Sharif, Islam's third holiest site, the police said.
However, in a conciliatory gesture, Israel will lift the military blockade on the West Bank for 1,000 Palestinians over 45 years old who wish to attend Friday prayers in east Jerusalem -- JERUSALEM (AFP)
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