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Security Heightened in Jerusalem's Old City Ahead of Prayers

  • Reuters

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

Israel stepped up security across Jerusalem ahead of Friday prayers and allowed entry of Palestinians of all ages to al-Aqsa, Israeli police said.

Police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told Reuters that hundreds of policemen deployed in and around the old city. He said that restrictions on worshippers would not be imposed for a second week in a row in a bid to ease tensions.

For months young Palestinian worshippers have been barred entry to the holy site, revered by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount, during Friday prayers, amid fears that frequent clashes between Israeli and Palestinian youths could trigger a new Palestinian uprising.

The ease came after Israel and the Palestinians pledged last week during a meeting in Amman to take concrete steps to restore calm, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who attended the meeting on November 13, said.

Palestinians have been waging stone-throwing protests in Jerusalem since July, when a Palestinian youth was burned to death by Israelis in alleged revenge for the killing of three Jewish teens by militants in the occupied West Bank.

Visits by far-right Israelis to Jerusalem's most sacred compound - where al-Aqsa mosque now stands and Biblical Jewish Temples once stood - have also raised Muslim fears that Israel will lift its decades-old ban on Jewish worship at the site. Israel says it has no such plans.

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