JERUSALEM, OCT. 9 -- Israel struggled today to contain Palestinian and international reaction to the killing of 19 Arab stone throwers and demonstrators on the Old City's Temple Mount. It deployed thousands of police and soldiers, put much of the occupied territories under curfew and launched a public relations drive to persuade the world that Monday's bloodshed was deliberately provoked by Palestinian leaders.

Politicians, police and news media here continued to debate the cause of the bloodshed, and new doubts were cast on the behavior of Israeli police during the riot and the explanations police gave for why the trouble began. At the same time, the government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir plunged into a campaign of damage control designed to head off repercussions in the United States, the United Nations and the Arab world.

Officials were particularly worried that the United States would be pressured into supporting action against Israel by the U.N. Security Council. Washington might feel obligated to act, officials said, in order to maintain its current alliance with moderate Arab states and avoid the erosion of Security Council support for sanctions against Iraq. "We are going to have some difficult days," said Avi Pazner, an aide to Shamir.

However, it appeared likely tonight that Israel would be satisfied with a resolution being drafted at the Security Council that would call on Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar to dispatch a delegation to investigate conditions in Jerusalem and the territories. While Israel has said it would not accept any investigative delegation appointed by the Security Council, it has in the past agreed to envoys from Perez de Cuellar -- most recently in June, following an incident in which Palestinian workers were slain by an Israeli gunman.

Some senior officials expressed dismay today about the behavior of Israeli police, and one privately predicted that National Police Commissioner Yaacov Terner would be dismissed. In public, however, the Israelis argued that the deaths on the Temple Mount were the responsibility of Palestinian political and religious leaders who, they claimed, had planned a massive act of violence in order to revive flagging world interest in their cause.

In addition to the 19 Palestinians killed Monday, about 140 were wounded, police said, and three others were killed in later rioting in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. About a half-dozen policemen and 22 Jewish civilians were reported hit by rocks and police said 37 Arabs and five Jews remained hospitalized today.

Police closed the Temple Mount and fired tear gas this afternoon after 200 protesters tried to break through their cordon to the Al Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques. The chief Moslem cleric of Jerusalem, 80-year-old Mufti Saad-ad-Din Alami, was overcome by gas fumes and taken to Mokassed Hospital.

Arab spokesmen said it was the first time Israel had closed the Temple Mount, Islam's third-holiest shrine, since capturing the 35-acre site in 1967. Authorities reopened the area tonight for evening prayers.

Police arrested Jerusalem's second-highest Islamic leader, Deputy Mufti Mohammed Jamal, and continued to hold the city's most prominent Palestinian nationalist leader, Faisal Husseini. Official sources said both might be charged with inciting thousands of Palestinians to gather on the Temple Mount Monday morning.

Despite a rash of other incidents in East Jerusalem and in Arab communities in Israel, army and police managed today to prevent any new fatalities or major outbreak.

In the most serious incident today, two Israeli police were reported stabbed by Arabs in Umm Tuba, southeast of Jerusalem. Israeli radio said the police fired at their attackers and wounded two of them.

Police also fired tear gas at Arab demonstrators who blockaded streets and threw stones in Arab-populated Nazareth, and lesser disturbances were reported in other Arab communities in northern Israel and in East Jerusalem.

To head off rioting in East Jerusalem and the occupied territories, authorities deployed thousands of police and soldiers and imposed widespread curfews. The entire Gaza Strip was placed under curfew, as were the West Bank's major cities and refugee camps. Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem were declared closed military zones, with movement in or out of them banned.

Palestinian leaders in the territories declared a week-long strike starting today, and issued a leaflet calling on their followers to kill Israeli soldiers. In Israel, Arab leaders also announced a strike, and thousands raised black flags over their homes or marched in mourning processions for the slain demonstrators.

According to the Israeli account, the demonstrators hurled stones at Jewish worshipers at the nearby Western Wall and attacked and burned a police station, forcing police to open fire in self-defense.

Most Israeli media and politicians today accepted the police account that Palestinians had prepared for clashes in advance and started the trouble by throwing stones. But politicians of both left and right, as well as some senior army and police sources quoted by the news media, sharply attacked police commanders for failing to realize that a major demonstration was in the making and for not deploying enough forces to ensure that it could be handled without extreme measures.

Critics pointed out that only 45 Israeli police were stationed on the Temple Mount when up to 3,000 Palestinians poured out of the mosques there. The result, they said, was that police felt they had to use live ammunition to save their own lives, and no senior commanders were present to overrule them.

Police "saw hundreds and then thousands of people coming to the mount, and they could {have done} something before the riots began," said Reuven Rivlin, a legislator from Shamir's right-wing Likud Party, in an interview on Israeli radio.

Palestinian leaders also disputed the Israeli account that they had sought to foment a riot. Rather, they said, the crowd was called to the Temple Mount by Moslem leaders deeply concerned about plans by a Jewish extremist group, called the Temple Mount Faithful, to hold a demonstration near the Moslem holy sites Monday morning despite a court order banning it.

Although Israel contends the Islamic leaders were motivated by support for Iraq in the Persian Gulf crisis, Jeruslem Mufti Alami issued the same call for Moslems to "defend the holy sites" a year ago when the Temple Mount Faithful planned a similar demonstration. That day passed without serious incident, but Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek warned at the time that the Jewish extremists could precipitate "a catastrophe" because even though Israelis considered them a fringe group, Moslem leaders took seriously their ambitions to replace the Temple Mount mosques with a new Jewish temple.

Accounts published in the Israeli press today connected the onset of Monday's violence directly to the movements of the Temple Mount Faithful. Quoting police sources, the Jerusalem Post and the Hebrew daily Haaretz said several dozen group members were turned away by police when they attempted to enter the Temple Mount grounds and they then marched to the nearby Arab village of Silwan, site of a Jewish holy place, the Shiloah pool.

Haaretz said that when sheiks in Silwan spotted the Jewish demonstrators they began crying "Allahu akhbar" -- God is greatest -- from the loudspeakers of local mosques. The cry was heard on the Temple Mount and picked up by the muezzins in its two great mosques. They, in turn, prompted the assembled Palestinians to begin demonstrating.