Russia retaliates over new US sanctions
Russia retaliated Friday to new sanctions from Washington by announcing…
JERUSALEM — Israeli police were on high alert Friday ahead of Muslim prayers at a major Jerusalem shrine at the center of recent tensions.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said men under 50 would be barred from the site Friday following security assessments indicting Palestinians plan protests there. There are no restrictions on women.
Rosenfeld said some Palestinians barricaded themselves inside Al-Aqsa Mosque overnight in order to join protests later. Police removed them after they refused to leave, he said.
Friday prayers are the highlight of the Muslim religious week. Thousands of Muslims from around Israel and Palestinian areas typically worship at the holy compound in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Tensions have been running high at the site Arab gunmen killed two police officers on July 14, prompting Israel to install metal detectors and other security devices.
The move outraged Muslims who claimed Israel was trying to expand its control over the site. Israel emphatically denied the allegations insisting the security measures were needed to prevent more attacks.
The issue sparked some of the worst street clashes in years and threatened to draw Israel into conflict with other Arab and Muslim nations.
Under intense pressure, Israel removed the metal detectors and said it planned to install sophisticated security cameras instead.
Muslims had been praying in the streets outside the shrine to protest the security measures since they were installed. They turned to pray at the sacred site Thursday after Israel removed them.
However, violence resumed as Palestinians gathering for prayers at the compound clashed with police.
Palestinian factions Fatah and the Islamic militant group Hamas both issued calls earlier this week for mass protests on Friday.