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Al Aqsa Mosque Clashes: 6 Killed as Jerusalem Shrine Tensions Worsen

Israeli police have banned men under the age of 50 from entering one of Jerusalem’s holiest sites as security is stepped up across the city.
Image: About 100 Palestinians gather near a police road block in east Jerusalem.
About 100 Palestinians gather near a police road block in east Jerusalem.Paul Goldman / NBC News

JERUSALEM — Three Palestinians died in clashes in Jerusalem and three Israelis were killed in a stabbing attack at a West Bank settlement as tensions gave way to violence over the Holy Land's most contested shrine.

A Palestinian sneaked into a home in the Israeli settlement of Halamish in the West Bank after nightfall on Friday and stabbed-to-death three Israelis, the military said. The three Palestinians died earlier Friday during confrontations with Israeli security forces.

Authorities believe the attacker jumped over a fence and surprised the Israeli family as they ate the traditional Sabbath evening meal. The military said the Palestinian then killed a man and two of his children, while a woman was wounded and taken to a hospital. The man's grandchildren were present but not harmed, it said.

The man was later identified as 70-year-old Yosef Solomon, according to local reports. His daughter, Haya Solomon, 46, and his son Elad Solomon, 36, were also killed.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expresses his deep sorrow over the murder of three family members in Halamish last night," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement Saturday. "It is an act of terror perpetrated by a human animal, infused with abhorrent hatred.The security forces are doing all they can to maintain security, and will take all necessary measures to do so."

The army released footage showing a blood-covered kitchen floor. It said senior military officials were meeting overnight to discuss how to proceed.

The violence came after Israeli officials banned men under the age of 50 from entering Al Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam. The military said it had imposed the ban for security reasons after Palestinians were angered by the introduction of metal detectors at the shrine, with some calling for a “day of rage.”

“I am calling all Muslims to come to the Old City and pray outside. Al Aqsa mosque is ours and just for us”

The devices were installed after two Israeli policemen were shot dead at the site, which is known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, last week.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday ordered the suspension of all official contact with Israel until it removed the new 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," Abbas said in a brief televised speech after meeting his aides.

Police reported disturbances in the Ras al-Amud, Saladin and A-Tur areas of the city. The Al Makassed hospital said a 22-year-old man named Mohamad Hasan Abu Ghanam had been killed during disturbances in A-Tur.

Worshipers run from teargas fired by Israeli forces in Jerusalem on Friday.Ahmad Gharabli / AFP - Getty Images

Palestinian activists told NBC News that a 17-year-old named Mohamad Mahmud Sharaf was killed by an Israeli settler in Ras al-Amud, a neighborhood in city's east. The Palestinian health ministry later reported a third man had been killed.

NBC News witnessed Israeli border police throw stun grenades toward Palestinians who had tried to push at a police roadblock in the city.

Video footage from the Associated Press, meanwhile, showed Israeli police dispersing protesters in Ras al-Amud. Police said stones and Moltov cocktails had been thrown at security forces by protesters.

Reuters cited the Palestinian Red Crescent as saying that 41 Palestinians were taken to hospitals or clinics with injures from live fire, rubber bullets and beatings.

Related: Leaders Appeal For Calm in Jerusalem

Conflicts over the site revered by Muslims and Jews have repeatedly triggered Israeli-Palestinian confrontations over the years.

Israel provides security for Al Aqsa while neighboring Jordan manages the ceremonial and religious aspects of the complex. And while Jews can pray in the adjacent Western Wall, they are not allowed to pray in the Temple Mount itself but they can visit.

Muslim clerics urged worshipers to skip prayers in neighborhood mosques on Friday and converge on the shrine in an attempt to draw larger crowds.

Some 4,000 Muslims pray outside the entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem as it is partially blocked by Israeli Police.Ilia Yefimovich / Getty Images

Former grand mufti of Jerusalem Ekremeh Sabri told NBC News by phone that the protesters were refusing to enter into Al Aqsa mosque through the electronic gates.

“I am calling all Muslims to come to the Old City and pray outside. Al Aqsa mosque is ours and just for us,” he added.

Friday is the highlight of the Muslim religious week, when tens of thousands typically converge on the holy site for prayers.

Paul Goldman and Lawahez Jabari reported from Jerusalem. Eoghan Macguire reported from London.

Reuters and Associated Press contributed.