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Israeli police, Palestinian worshippers clash at disputed Jerusalem shrine

Confrontation as Jewish activists march towards Al Aqsa mosque

JERUSALEM: Israeli police stormed a disputed Jerusalem holy site on Monday, hurling stun grenades to disperse hundreds of Palestinian worshippers who were throwing stones at police and Jewish visitors.

The confrontation erupted as Israel marked ``Jerusalem Day,'' the anniversary of its capture of traditionally Arab east Jerusalem in the 1967 West Asia war.

The disputed holy site, the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, is in east Jerusalem, claimed by the Palestinians as a future capital.

Settler evacuation

Also on Monday, Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz told a parliamentary committee that the military would forcibly disarm settlers to be evacuated from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank this summer if they didn't turn in their weapons voluntarily, participants in the closed-door meeting said.

Mr. Mofaz also said he would urge settlers to evacuate their children before the withdrawal to spare them traumatic sights.

``I urge them not to allow their children to be involved in any aspect of the evacuation,'' he said after the meeting of Parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee.

Asked whether the pullout, scheduled to begin in mid-August, would take place under fire, Mr. Mofaz replied:

``It has been decided that the disengagement will not take place under fire. We will do everything possible to coordinate the disengagement with the Palestinians.''

Palestinian officials said on Monday that Israel was late on the promised handover of maps of Gaza's Jewish settlements, an important element of coordination.

The office of Palestinian Cabinet Minister Mohammed Dahlan, who is in charge of coordinating the pullout with Israel, said Israel was to have supplied the maps on Sunday.

In Jerusalem, some 3,000 police were deployed to prevent possible friction on Jerusalem Day, which Israelis mark with marches and speeches. — AP

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