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Israel shuts Palestinians out of Jerusalem Old City after attacks

Israeli police have stopped Palestinians from entering the walled Old City for the next two days, officials say. The move comes after at least two Israelis were killed and several injured in stabbing attacks.

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Tensions rising in Jerusalem

Police said on Sunday that authorities would allow entrance to Palestinians who live, work and study in the Old City, as well as Israelis and tourists.

However, all other Palestinians will be prevented from entering the area where major Muslim, Christian and Jewish sites are located.

"The regulations implemented are definitely necessary in order to deal with the recent terrorist attacks," Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

The unprecedented move comes after a Palestinian teenager stabbed a 15-year old Israeli overnight, just hours after another Palestinian youth

stabbed two people in the Old City

to death, seriously injured a woman and lightly wounded a toddler. In a separate attack on Saturday, a Palestinian man stabbed a passerby in West Jerusalem. All the attackers were shot down by police.

In the West Bank, Israeli troops shot and wounded at least 18 Palestinians during a

raid in a refugee camp,

a Palestinian hospital director said.

On Monday, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy died after being shot in the chest by Israeli security forces in Bethlehem, and a 18-year-old male died after Israeli solidiers shot him in the West Bank.

Closing off Temple Mount

There are about 300,000 Palestinians living in Jerusalem, making up a third of the city's population. Most of them have residency status in the ancient metropolis, but not Israeli citizenship.

The Old City is also the home to the sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which Jews call the Temple Mount. In addition to the entrance ban, the Israeli police decided to bar Palestinian males under 50 from worshipping at the mosque. No age limit on women has been announced.

The worshipers are to be allowed in through one specific gate.

'Harsh offensive'

Tensions have been brewing during the last several weeks, with a series of violent incidents feeding fears of another Palestinian uprising.

Earlier in the week, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said he was no longer bound by previous agreements with Israel, accusing the Israeli government of violating the accords in

his address to the UN General Assembly.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to meet security officials on Sunday to decide upon a "harsh offensive on Palestinian Islamic terror."

"We are in an all-out war against terror," Netanyahu said in a Facebook post.

The entrance restrictions are scheduled to last for two days, until the end of the Jewish Sukkot holiday.

dj/rc (AFP, AP)

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