Israel restricts access to Aqsa Mosque amid tension

Muslim worshippers over the age of 50 returned to pray at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, a day after Israeli authorities shut down all access to the sacred compound

Israel restricts access to Aqsa Mosque amid tension

World Bulletin/News Desk

Israeli police imposed fresh restrictions on access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem on Friday, amid tension in the holy city following the shooting of a far-right Jewish rabbi.

"Only male worshippers aged 50 and above and women of all ages were allowed into the holy site," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Anadolu Agency by phone.

Police said that the age limit is part of security measures to prevent disturbance on the site.

Israeli police were seen deployed in Jerusalem's Old City and at the Aqsa Mosque gates since early morning.

The Muslim quarter of the Old City was calm early in the day, the Muslim holy day, and police said pre-dawn prayers had passed off without incident.

Israel police frequently limit access to Al Aqsa to women and Muslim men over the age of 40 or 50. It was not clear when the compound would be reopened to all Muslim worshippers.

"I normally go five times a day to pray, but the police are not letting me today," said Ahmed Abu Zaaror, 21, who runs a fruitstand in the Muslim quarter of the Old City. Asked if he was angry at the situation he said:

"What can I say? I have to keep all my anger inside."

TENSION HIGH

Tension mounted in East Jerusalem since Wednesday, when Israeli police killed a Palestinian man for allegedly shooting extremist Jewish rabbi Yehuda Glick in Jerusalem.

Israel closed the holy site shortly after Glick was seriously injured in the drive-by shooting, triggering clashes with Palestinian protesters in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described the closure of Al Aqsa as "tantamount to a declaration of war" by Israel.

His Fatah party and Hamas had called for a "day of rage" in Jerusalem to protest at the closure of the holy site that was partially reopened late on Thursday. Rainfall in Jerusalem, the first in weeks, looked likely to dampen any protests.

Israeli police announced that the holy site will reopen following a day of violence, which left more than 20 Palestinians injured.

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.

Last Mod: 31 Ekim 2014, 11:34
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