Jerusalem holy site reopens amid growing tensions | News | DW | 31.10.2014
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Jerusalem holy site reopens amid growing tensions

As pressure grows beween Israel and Palestine, a contested holy site for both Muslims and Jews has reopened. The compound was closed after clashes over the fatal shooting of a Palestinian.

The Temple Mount or al-Haram al-Sharif, a key holy site for Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem, Israel, was reopened on Friday in time for midday prayers. On a rare occassion, it was closed following clashes over the fatal shooting of a Palestinian by security forces on Wednesday. The man, Muataz Hijazi, was suspected of attempting to assassinate a hard-line Jewish activist, Yehuda Glick, who advocates giving Jews greater access to the site and is a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud.

As a security measure, however, restrictions on worshippers were put in place at the compound's reopening on Friday, allowing entry only to men over the age of 50. Some 3,000 police were also guarding the site - many of whom were wearing riot gear.

Known amongst Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to the Jewish community as the Temple Mount, the compound is the holiest site in Judaism, and contains the al-Aqsa Mosque - the third holiest site in Islam.

A spokesperson for Palestinian president, Mahmud Abbas, condemned the closure as an Israeli "declaration of war."

Tensions

Late on Thursday, US secretary of state John Kerry had called on Israel to reopen the site to worshippers and condemned Wednesday's shooting of Glick.

Recent sporadic outbreaks of violence between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the city have heightened existing tensions, as Jewish settlements continue to expand into Palestinian areas in the east.

Throughout July and August of this year, a 50-day war between Israeli and Palestinian militants in Gaza also intensified protests and clashes in the Holy City.

ksb/dj (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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