Israeli police deployed in force in Jerusalem’s Old City after limiting access to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound ahead of the first Friday prayers during Ramadan.
“More than 2,000 police and border guards were deployed in Jerusalem,” said a police spokesman, adding access was blocked to the esplanade for Muslim men under the age of 45.
“Among those aged 45 to 50 years, only the fathers of families with a permanent entry permit for Israel will be allowed to go on the esplanade,” he said.
Access to the complex was also denied for West Bank Palestinians under the age of 35, the spokesman said, adding the measures were imposed as a precaution due to the risk of violence.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and strive to be more pious and charitable.
The sprawling esplanade containing the Al-Aqsa mosque and the adjacent Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem’s historic Old City is the third holiest site in Islam after Saudi Arabia’s Mecca and Medina.
It is the holiest site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount because it was the location of the Second Temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.