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Some 450 Palestinian schoolchildren have been blocked by police from attending their studies in the Old City of Jerusalem for almost a week, due to unrest over Israeli construction work being carried out near the Al-Aqsa compound.

The students, who attend three institutions on the Temple Mount, have not been able to reach their schools since last Tuesday. The decision to block access to the schools was part of Jerusalem District Police policy preventing Muslims under the age of 45 from entering the Temple Mount, due to fears of exacerbated clashes over the excavation work.

The Association for Civil Rights on Sunday asked the police to ease the restrictions, which have prevented hundreds of students from accessing their right to education.

School will be reopened on Monday for elementary school students and female high school students, but the male high school will remain closed.

The Palestinian waqf has for years operated three educational institutions on the Temple Mount, unconnected to the city's education system: the Al-Aqsa Sharia High School - separated by gender - as well as an elementary school.

Students who arrived last Tuesday at the entrance gates of the Temple Mount were told by police stationed there to return home.

The Jerusalem Police said that it had found Hamas and Palestine Liberation Organization flags in the bags of some students during a search last week. Police suspect that students have taken part in some of the demonstrations which have erupted against the Israeli excavation work in the area.

Police told the schools' administration to vow to prevent student participation in clashes with security forces, in exchange for allowing the schools to be reopened.

The Association for Civil Rights said, "there is no basis for taking such harmful steps just because of concern about participation in demonstrations."

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