There was tight security in Jerusalem for the first Friday prayers of
the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Robert Berger filed this VOA report
from the Old City of Jerusalem.
About 90,000 Palestinians
attended Ramadan prayers at the Mosque of al-Aksa in Jerusalem-the
third holiest place in Islam. The site is a focal point of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For Jews it is the Temple Mount, the site
of the two biblical Temples and the holiest place in Judaism.
of Israeli police deployed in and around Jerusalem's walled Old City to
keep order. Fearing a repeat of riots that have taken place there in
the past, police barred Palestinian men under the age of 45 from
entering the mosque compound.
Mahmoud Abu Ali, a Palestinian
shopkeeper in the Old City, said Israel is offending Muslims by
imposing restrictions at the Mosque of al-Aksa. "Every Moslem person in
Jerusalem, he is against the idea," he said.
Abu Ali told VOA
that Israel is denying Muslims freedom of worship even though there
haven't been riots at the site in years. "This is ridiculous," he
said. "The Israeli government create problems. It's killing Jerusalem."
Israel says its security measures prevent Palestinian
militants from stoking violence at a place that is holy to both Jews
and Arabs. And on the first Friday of Ramadan, Muslim prayers passed