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11:45, 21 November 2014 Friday

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For 2nd week, Israel drops age restrictions for Aqsa access
For 2nd week, Israel drops age restrictions for Aqsa access

Israeli authorities allowed Muslim worshippers of all ages into the mosque following a meeting in Amman between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jordan's King Abdullah II and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

World Bulletin/News Desk

For the second week in a row, Israeli authorities have dropped restrictions on access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, allowing worshippers of all ages into the holy city.

"There will be no age restriction on access to the Temple Mount (Al-Aqsa Mosque)," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told The Anadolu Agency on Friday.

He added that extra police units, however, will be deployed around the holy site.

Last week, Israeli authorities allowed Muslim worshippers of all ages into the mosque following a meeting in Amman between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jordan's King Abdullah II and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Following the meeting, Netanyahu said that Israel was committed to preserving the current situation at holy sites in East Jerusalem, according to a statement by the Jordanian royal court.

Earlier this month, Jordan – which is responsible for Jerusalem's holy sites in line with a 1994 peace treaty with Israel – has recalled its ambassador to Israel to protest Israeli "violations" in East Jerusalem.

Tension has run high in East Jerusalem since late last month, when Israel closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for several hours after an extremist rabbi was injured in a West Jerusalem drive-by shooting.

Unrest mounted further when Israeli forces killed a young Palestinian man suspected of shooting the rabbi in a raid on his East Jerusalem home.

Further aggravating the situation, a number of Israeli parliamentarians have forced their way into the mosque complex in recent days and weeks, drawing the ire of Muslim worshippers and official condemnation from Arab and Muslim countries.

Tension escalated when several Israelis were killed in a spate of attacks by Palestinians in Jerusalem.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.

In September 2000, a visit to Al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon triggered what later became known as the "Second Intifada," a popular uprising against Israel's decades-long occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.

 



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