Thousands of Palestinians have observed a general strike across Jerusalem and the West Bank in protest over access to the al-Aqsa mosque.
The compound housing the mosque is a holy place for both Muslims and Jews, and has often been a flashpoint. In anticipation of violence, Israeli police were out in force, but rumours of an uprising ahead of Friday prayers failed to materialise. Palestinian fears of extremist Jews gaining entry have reportedly been the cause of recent clashes. Tensions rose two weeks ago when police and protesters clashed near al-Aqsa mosque on the eve of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur It comes as the United States peace envoy, George Mitchell, visits the region in an effort to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks after ten months of inactivity.