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UN Security Council to hold emergency meeting on Jerusalem violence

The UN Security Council is to hold an emergency meeting on the violence in Jerusalem. A Friday rally has been planned in support of the Palestinians in Berlin, while in Palestine there have been calls for protests.

Thirty-two Palestinians and seven Israelis have been killed in two weeks of

knife attacks and shootings in Jerusalem.

Ten people with knives have been shot dead, according to Israeli police.

Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, has called on the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions to carry out an investigation into what he called "state-sponsored killings of several Palestinians during the past few weeks."

The violence was sparked by Palestinian anger over what was seen as Jewish encroachment on Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound. It is a holy site also for Jewish settlers as the location of two biblical Jewish temples.

UN Security Council member Jordan called for the talks after a meeting of Arab ambassadors on Thursday. They expressed alarm at the escalating situation in Jerusalem, amid fears that a third Palestinian intifada, or uprising, might begin.

Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour called on the Security Council to "shoulder its responsibility" with action to limit the violence.

The US joined in the criticism of

Israeli use of force.

"We've certainly seen some reports of what many would consider excessive use of force," said US State Department spokesman John Kirby.

Rally planned in Berlin

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit back at the comments on Thursday. "What do you think would happen in New York if you saw people rushing into crowds trying to murder people? What do you think they would do? Do you think they would do anything differently than we are doing?," he said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross called on Israel and the Palestinians to show restraint, condemning "deliberate or indiscriminate" attacks on civilians.

A rally has been planned in support of the Palestinians for Friday in Berlin. However the Central Council of Jews in Germany has called for it to be banned.

"There should be no place in our country for such undisguised anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel," said Council President Josef Schuster.

Police prepare for protests

Following a relatively peaceful day in Israel and Palestine on Thursday, Palestinian organizations have called for demonstrations to express their anger. The protests were expected to take place in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and in the Gaza strip to coincide with Muslims' Friday prayers.

Israeli police announced on Friday that for security reasons, only men over the age of 40 would be granted access to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The site is most important shrine in Judaism and the third most important holy place in Islam.

jm/cmk (AFP, epd, Reuters)

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