Last updated: 27 February, 2014

Israel to limit Friday access to Al-Aqsa mosque

Israeli police said they will limit access for Muslim men to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound during Friday prayers to prevent possible clashes following services.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said on Thursday that men under the age of 50 will be barred from Friday prayers, based on intelligence of plans for unrest, with security forces bolstering their presence in the area.

The decision comes after police clashed with stone-throwing Palestinians at the compound on Tuesday, hours ahead of a debate in the Israeli parliament on Jews’ right to pray at the compound, which is currently denied.

The discussion, which did not result in a vote or any practical measures, sparked fury in the Muslim world, with the parliament of Jordan — the custodian of the site — voting to expel Israel’s envoy and its premier warning Amman might review its peace treaty with Israel.

And the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Wednesday condemned the debate as a “dangerous escalation,” calling it part of Israel’s goal to “Judaise Jerusalem.”

The flashpoint compound sits above the Western Wall plaza and houses the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque, and is Islam’s third-holiest site.

It is also Judaism’s holiest place, being the site of the first and second Jewish temples.