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At UN, Israel declines international Al-Aqsa guards

Israel has rejected an appeal by Palestinians for an international force to protect Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. On Friday, Israel's military opened fire on protesters in Gaza, killing one and wounding dozens.

UN Ambassador Danny Danon repeated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's commitment to not allowing international peacekeepers to watch over Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism and third-holiest in Islam.

"Israel will not agree to any international presence on the Temple Mount," Danon said ahead of a special meeting of the UN Security Council to address weeks of killings in east Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.

Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour asked the council to deploy a force to protect worshippers. "It is the responsibility of the United Nations and the international community and Security Council to provide protection for our people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem," Mansour said on Friday.

Jordan oversees Al-Aqsa compound, according to a peace treaty signed in 1994, but the de facto arrangement dates to 1924, when leaders of the land then called Palestine granted custodianship to the great-grandfather of Abdullah, the current king. Civil servants and police from Jordan oversee the site and allow Jews to visit, but not to pray there.

Dina Kawar, Jordan's UN ambassador, said she wouldn't push for international troops, but urged Israel to keep forces away from Al-Aqsa. Officials didn't expect immediate results from Friday's meeting. The 15-member body must agree statements unanimously.

US Secretary of State John Kerry plans to meet with Netanyahu in Germany next week.

'In the head'

On Friday, Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra said soldiers killed 19-year-old Abdul Qadir Farhat at a protest near the Palestinian territory's border with Israel. Farhat died "after he was shot directly in the head by the military in clashes close to the Beit Hanoun crossing," al-Kidra said.

Al-Kidra said troops wounded 30 other protesters, "14 shot with live ammunition." He said doctors treated even more for tear gas exposure.

Since early October, soldiers and police loyal to the government of Israel have killed at least 35 Palestinians, some of whom had been involved in attacks, some of whom were alleged to be, and some of whom were children. Troops have wounded hundreds. At least seven Israelis have been killed in seemingly random attacks.

On Friday, arsonists set a West Bank Jewish shrine ablaze and an attacker masquerading as press stabbed an Israeli soldier.

mkg/jm (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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