Tension and anticipation is rising in the West Bank a month before US President Barack Obama is due to visit Jerusalem and Ramallah, though he has not announced concrete plans to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which have stalled for three years.
From the precincts of Jerusalem's al Aqsa mosque, one of Islam's holiest sites and revered by Jews as the site of their Biblical temple, youths yesterday threw stones at Israeli police after prayers.
Dozens of Israeli officers briefly entered the politically sensitive compound. Witnesses said officers fired tear gas and threw percussion grenades at the demonstrators as bystanders and elderly worshippers ran for cover. A police spokesman said no tear gas was fired, but that protesters were throwing firecrackers.
The old city of Hebron, a bitterly contested city in the southern West Bank, sown heavily with Israeli settlers, echoed with percussion grenades hurled by Israeli forces at some 1500 Palestinian protesters.
At a military checkpoint near the northern city of Nablus and outside a military prison in the central West Bank, Israeli forces worked to clear away makeshift roadblocks and fired rubber bullets towards stone-throwing Palestinians.
There were dozens of minor injuries from gas inhalation and rubber and aluminium bullets, witnesses said.
Palestinians seek statehood in territories Israel captured in a 1967 war. Peace talks broke down in 2010 over Palestinian objections to Israel expanding settlements on occupied land.
Israel has called for resuming the talks without preconditions.