Israel limits Muslim access to Jerusalem site for Friday pray


Israel police severely restricted Muslim access to a contested shrine in Jerusalem's Old City on Friday and They barred Palestinian men under 50 from entering holy site for Friday pray.

Dozens of Palestinians were injured Friday as clashes broke out with Israeli police outside Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, health officials said.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said five were taken to hospital and others were treated at the scene.

Eyewitnesses said Israeli police fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and water cannon to disperse protesters following Friday prayers.

Earlier, thousands of Muslim worshippers gathered in the streets of Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem to pray.

The Jordanian-run Authority for Muslim Endowments and Al-Aqsa Affairs closed all the mosques in East Jerusalem on Friday and called for prayers in front of Al-Aqsa's gates to protest against the installation of metal detectors at the entrances to the mosque compound.

Police banned men under the age of 50 from entering the mosque and Jerusalem's Old City.

The measures were authorized by the Israeli Cabinet late Thursday.

"The Cabinet has authorized the Israeli police to make any decision in order to ensure free access to the holy sites while upholding security and public order," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

- West Bank clashes

On Sunday, protests broke out after the mosque's leadership spoke out against the metal detectors, which were installed following a deadly shootout last week.

The new security measures led to a wave of anger among Palestinians, who called for the immediate removal of the metal detectors.

Israel defended the detectors, saying they were no different from security measures at other holy sites around the world.

Meanwhile, clashes broke out in several cities across the West Bank after Friday prayers.

"Fifteen Palestinians were injured with rubber bullets while 20 suffered from temporary suffocation during the clashes at Qalandia checkpoint in northern Jerusalem city," the Red Crescent said in a statement.

"Ten other Palestinians were injured during the clashes at the northern entrance of the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem."

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War. It later annexed the city in 1980, claiming all of Jerusalem as the Jewish state's capital -- a move not recognized by the international community.

Sacred to Muslims, Jews, and Christians, Jerusalem is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

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