Police Restrict Muslim Temple Mount Access Following Clashes

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Muslims praying outside the Dome of the Rock Mosque, on Jerusalem's Temple Mount, during the Eid al-Adha holiday last week.Credit: AP

The entry of Muslim worshippers onto the Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem was severely restricted on Sunday evening, following the unrest and violence at the holy sanctuary earlier in the day.

Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces resumed on Sunday morning, with masked men pelting Israel Police and Border Police forces with stones, bottles of paint, fire bombs and fireworks. Towards evening, a group of Palestinian youths barricaded themselves in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In light of the violence, the Jerusalem District Police issued a statement restricting entry of Muslim worshippers to the holy site to men over the age of 50. Women worshippers of all ages are free to enter the site.

The high age limit of the restriction is regarded as unusual. Previous restrictions have typically limited entry to the Temple Mount to Muslim men over the age of 40.  

"The police have been making intensive efforts over the period of the High Holidays to enable worshippers of all religions to express their faith and celebrate their festivals in peace and security," the police said in a statement.

"In light of the repeated attempts by violent radicals to disrupt the order and harm the sanctity of the place, as well as to endanger the people present, it was decided to restrict the worshippers permitted to enter the Temple Mount according to their age."

The decision to impose the restriction was taken by Maj. Gen Moshe Edri, commander of the Jerusalem District police.

Hours before the unrest began on the Temple Mount, the Arab Monitoring Committee, the main Israeli Arab leadership body, called on Israeli Arabs to head to the sanctuary's Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Violence has been an almost daily occurrence on the Temple Mount in recent weeks, with Muslims maintaining that Israel is attempting to alter the status quo at the sites holy to Islam.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected those claims last Thursday, saying "We are not the ones to change the status quo. Those who take pipe bombs to mosques are the ones changing the status quo."

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