Adel Hana / AP

Palestinian killed by Israeli forces; Kerry seeks to ease holy site unrest

US secretary of state unveils measures aimed at reducing tension in Jerusalem as death toll rises

A 16-year-old Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli forces after allegedly trying to stab a checkpoint security guard in the occupied West Bank, Israeli authorities said Saturday as US Secretary of State John Kerry attempted to spearhead a diplomatic push to ease tensions in the region.

The Palestinian health ministry confirmed that Mohammed Zakarna was killed at the Jalameh checkpoint in northern Jenin. No other injuries were reported.

The suspect approached the Jalameh crossing between the northern West Bank and Israel from the Palestinian side, an Israeli police spokeswoman said. The Palestinian health ministry confirmed the death of Zakarna, while an Israeli military spokesperson said on Twitter that that "security personnel responded" and shot the suspect "on site". 

A Red Crescent employee told Al Jazeera that the Israeli army prevented an ambulance from getting to the site. The employee added that Zakarna was taken to the Israeli part of the checkpoint until an Israeli ambulance took him away.

Later on Saturday it was confirmed that a 25-year-old Palestinian man shot last week in clashes with Israeli troops had died of his injuries.

Since Oct 1, Palestinians — including unarmed demonstrators, bystanders and suspected attackers — have been killed by Israeli forces or in settler attacks.

Eight Israelis have been killed by Palestinians in stabbing or shooting incidents in the saem period.

Saturday's deaths come a day after Israeli troops injured at least 92 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza with live ammunition or rubber-coated steel bullets during "Day of Rage" protests called by Palestinian political factions.

The violence has in part been triggered by Palestinian anger over what they see as Jewish encroachment on the al-Aqsa compound, Islam's third holiest site, which is also revered by Jews.

In the latest diplomatic effort to ease tensions in the region, Kerry announced Saturday that Israel and its neighbor Jordan have agreed on steps aimed at reducing tensions at a holy site in Jerusalem.

"All the violence and the incitement to violence must stop. Leaders must lead," Kerry told reporters in the Jordanian capital after meeting with King Abdullah II and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

The top U.S. diplomat said the steps include round-the-clock video monitoring and Israel's reaffirming of Jordan's special and historic role as custodian of the site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif.

The king suggested that monitoring, according to Kerry, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted.

Israel has pledged to maintain the rules of worship at the site, and Israeli and Jordanian authorities will meet about bolstering security, Kerry said.

On Friday, Israel lifted restrictions on Muslim worshipers after having barred younger Muslim men from entering the compound on Fridays, the main day of prayer in the Muslim religious week.

The bans had, at times, targeted men up to the age of 50 and fueled Palestinian fears that Israel was trying to change long-standing understandings under which Jews are allowed to visit, but not pray, at the shrine.

Those fears have also been fueled by a rise in visits to the shrine by Jewish activists demanding prayer rights, including senior members of Netanyahu's coalition government.

Kerry, who met with Netanyahu in Berlin on Thursday, said the leaders "expressed their strong commitment to ending the violence and restoring the calm as soon as possible."

"I hope that based on these conversations we can finally put to rest some of the false assumptions, perceptions" about the holy site, Kerry said. "Those perceptions are stoking the tensions and fueling the violence and it is important for us to end the provocative rhetoric and start to change the public narrative that comes out of those false perceptions."

Al Jazeera with wire services

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