There has been heightened tension in and around Arab east Jerusalem as the Israeli army stepped up security following clashes in recent weeks after Friday prayers. Only men over fifty with Jerusalem ID cards were allowed in to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, part of the compound that Jews call the Temple Mount but which is also Islam’s third holiest shrine.
In previous weeks several Palestinians and Israeli policeman have been injured. The upsurge in violence has been sparked by an increase in Israeli demolition orders of Arab homes in the city. Israel’s announcement that it is adding some West Bank sites holy to both Jews and Muslims to an Israeli heritage list has also prompted riots in and around the shrines.
The Israeli air force has responded to a Palestinian rocket attack by launching strikes on targets in the Gaza strip. In Khan Younis several injuries were reported.
Israel has sealed off the West Bank for 48 hours until midnight on Saturday because of fears over security. It is the first time in more than a year that such a move has been implemented when no Jewish festival is taking place.
Palestinians denied access to mosque amid security fears