Israeli police deployed in large numbers in Jerusalem’s Old City Friday in a bid to head off incidents on the last weekly day of prayer before the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“Policemen and border guards have been deployed in Jerusalem, and a state of alert has been maintained throughout the country,” following recent rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, a police spokeswoman said.
She did not mention any specific state of alert over possible disorder, though police have stepped up security checks for fear of attacks in the holy city.
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and strive to be more pious and charitable.
Police and the Israeli army have only allowed access to east Jerusalem from the West Bank to Palestinian men over the age of 50 and women older than 45.
Israel generally prohibits Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip access to east Jerusalem, annexed after its conquest in 1967, as well as Israeli territory as a result of the closure in effect since early 2000.
The sprawling esplanade containing the Al-Aqsa mosque and the adjacent Dome of the Rock in the 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.