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Israel restricts access to Friday prayers in Jerusalem

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Israel restricts access to Friday prayers in Jerusalem
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Israel has banned men under 50 from attending Friday prayers at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque amid fears of disturbances today.

Muslim worshippers of all ages had hoped to attend after Israel lifted controversial security measures that sparked a boycott of the site.

For the past two weeks, most Muslims had been praying in streets around the Old City, refusing to pass through metal detectors.

When the security apparatus was removed, thousands surged into the complex on Thursday.

But clashes broke out, with more than 100 people reported injured.

The security devices had been installed after two Israeli police guards were killed on July 14 by gunmen who had concealed weapons inside the holy site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount.

The unannounced installation of the apparatus provoked days of unrest, with violent clashes on the streets of East Jerusalem.

Israeli forces shot dead four Palestinians, and a Palestinian knifed three Israelis to death in a settlement home in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Israel’s removal of the security devices, also including CCTV cameras, marked a significant climbdown by right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

While Palestinians celebrated yesterday, political opponents accused him of weakness.

With authorities fearing further unrest, The Jerusalem Post says that police are also “closing a number of roads and deploying extra policemen and border policemen to the vicinity of the Old City”.

with Reuters