Israel has again banned men under 50 from entering the contentious holy site in Jerusalem for Friday prayers. The move comes after more than 100 people were injured in clashes.
Despite fears of violence, Friday prayers at Jerusalem's Haram a-Sharif or Temple Mount compound, which includes the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, were largely calm and ended peacefully. Police reported that several dozen young Palestinians shouted at officers and engaged in minor scuffles but nothing more. The Israeli army, however, reported that some violence did occur in the occupied West Bank at roughly the same time, including in the Nablus, Bethlehem and Hebron areas. The army also reported that one Palestinian man had been shot dead after attempting to stab a soldier in the area.
After unrest on Thursday evening at the site, Israel reimposed restrictions on who could come to pray at the compound.
"Only men over the age of 50 will be permitted and women of all ages are permitted," the police said in a statement. "A number of roads around the Old City will be limited to access and all necessary security measures are being taken to prevent and to respond to any outbreak of violence."
The decision is only the latest development in the weeks' old conflict over the site. On Thursday, over 100 Palestinians were injured in clashes with the police, with security forces using stun grenades as Palestinians threw stones and bottles.
Chants of "We will sacrifice ourselves for Al-Aqsa!" rang through the crowd as police tried to control the scene.
"We just want to pray undisturbed," a Palestinian told DW correspondent Tania Krämer in Jerusalem.
Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, ordered reinforcements deployed to Jerusalem because of the unrest. The order came as police were deciding on restricting the entrance to the compound for Friday prayers.
"I really hope they will open all of the gates, otherwise it won't work," Safia, a Palestinian woman who did not want to give her full name, told DW on Thursday.
End of the boycott
Earlier on Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement that prayers would resume at the 37-acre compound after two weeks of boycotting the site because of new security measures. The decision had been cautiously greeted as a sign of tensions around the site calming, until Thursday's clashes broke out.
"They are playing monkey business now. They are opening one gate and closing the others. We just want to go pray in our mosque," Mohammed, who refuse to give his full name, told DW.
Israel had installed medal detectors and CCTV cameras at the site after Arab gunmen shot and killed two police officers earlier this month. The Palestinians saw the move as an Israeli attempt to tighten their control over the site.
Five Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed in the clashes that ensued after the new security measures were installed.
The area is a significant religious site for both Jews and Muslims. The complex houses the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock Islamic shrine, but it is also where the ruins of the Biblical Jewish Temple are located.
Death penalty for Palestinian teenager
Netanyahu is recommending the death penalty for a 19-year-old Palestinian who snuck into a West Bank home and stabbed three Israelis to death.
The Israeli prime minister visited the family of the Israelis. "I told the family that it is time to implement the death penalty for terrorists for extreme cases," Netanyahu said in a video posted on his Facebook page.
Israeli law permits the death penalty, but it has only been used once - the execution of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1962.
js, dv/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)