News / Middle East

Israel Restricts Entry to Disputed Jerusalem Holy Place

Israel has imposed a security clampdown on Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank amid fears of unrest.

Israel sealed off the West Bank for 48 hours, saying police had intelligence information that Palestinian youths would cause disturbances after prayers for the Muslim Sabbath on Friday. This Palestinian was turned away by Israeli troops at the entrance to Jerusalem from Bethlehem.

"It's surrounded by soldiers. And now we can't reach Jerusalem to pray, and you know, to do the activities of the religion," said Mos.

There has been sporadic violence for the past several weeks since Israel declared two West Bank shrines national heritage sites: The Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem. Some 3,000 Israeli police and soldiers patrolled the area in and around Jerusalem's Old City.

Restrictions were imposed on entry to the Mosque of al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock compound, the third holiest place in Islam. Palestinian men under the age of 50 were barred from entering the compound, which is a flashpoint of Jewish-Muslim tensions. For Jews it is the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism and site of the biblical Temples.

There were sporadic stone-throwing clashes in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. But the security clampdown had its desired effect, and prayers at the volatile Mosque of al-Aqsa passed quietly.

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