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Security high in Jerusalem as construction work goes on

Security high in Jerusalem as construction work goes on
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Israeli police have acted quickly to disperse Palestinians, renewing protests against construction work at a contested holy site in Jerusalem. The Israeli authorities are keeping security at top strength. Two thousand officers are on duty to prevent a repeat of the violent scenes of the past two days.

Men under the age of 45 have been banned from praying at the “Temple Mount” or “Haram al-Sharif” site, home to the al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock. The Israeli Cabinet has decided to press ahead with the excavations just outside it, rejecting claims it could harm the mosque.

The Prime Minister has repeated that the work has nothing to do with religion and is aimed at repairing a dangerous structure.

Ehud Olmert said: “It is a shame there are people in the Arab world trying to use the matter to fan the flames of hostility and hatred.”

He has refused to affirm or attack a deal paving the way to a government representing rival Palestinian factions.

But officials noted there was still no effort to recognise the Jewish state – a pre-condition for sanctions to end.

Diggers returned to the job aimed at replacing a walkway that collapsed a few years ago.

But they were under heavy guard and behind high barricades.

The region is braced for more unrest at a compound that has regularly been a flashpoint for violence.