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Thousands attend Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa

Palestinians pray inside the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City Thursday, July 27, 2017. (AP)
AMMAN: Palestinians were able to hold Friday prayers in Al-Aqsa Mosque for the first time since July 14, despite Israeli entry restrictions on men under 50 and the continued closure of some of the gates to the site.
Tensions soared in East Jerusalem after Israel installed metal detectors at the entrance to the holy site, in response to the July 14 killing of two Israeli police officers by gunmen who had hidden weapons in the compound.
The prayers on Friday ended without incident despite the age restrictions, yet serious violence erupted in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
According to a Reuters report quoting the Israeli military, a Palestinian armed with a knife charged at Israeli soldiers and was shot dead in the West Bank.
And Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian teenager and wounded seven others during clashes near the border fence in Gaza, Palestinian authorities in the enclave said.
Sheikh Wasif Al-Bakri, acting Islamic chief justice in Jerusalem, told Arab News that he had mixed feelings after Friday prayers.
“We were very happy about praying in Al-Aqsa but this joy was mixed with displeasure because of the age limit that Israel imposed,” he said.
Mahdi Abdul Hadi, founder and director of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, criticized the Israeli restriction, which violates a 2014 agreement between Jordan, Israel and the US.
“When it comes to the Israeli government there is no respect for any law or agreements,” Abdul Hadi told Arab News.
Outside the mosque, tens of thousands of Palestinians under the age of 50 lined the streets of the Old City and outside, in show of support to the mosque.
Eyewitnesses said that a high level of organization was observed as youth groups were seen ensuring order and providing water and other essentials to worshippers.
Some said that they did not want to escalate the situation, since their demands had been met, and that they knew Israel was angry and did not want to provoke it.
There were heightened tensions at the site on Thursday night, when Israeli troops shot at Palestinian youths in the Haram Al-Sharif compound because they raised the Palestinian flag and attempted to open some of the still-closed mosque gates. Israel said no police were available to man the gates, hence the closure.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that 96 people were wounded both inside the Al-Aqsa compound and in the immediate area late Thursday and early Friday morning.
AMMAN: Palestinians were able to hold Friday prayers in Al-Aqsa Mosque for the first time since July 14, despite Israeli entry restrictions on men under 50 and the continued closure of some of the gates to the site.
Tensions soared in East Jerusalem after Israel installed metal detectors at the entrance to the holy site, in response to the July 14 killing of two Israeli police officers by gunmen who had hidden weapons in the compound.
The prayers on Friday ended without incident despite the age restrictions, yet serious violence erupted in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
According to a Reuters report quoting the Israeli military, a Palestinian armed with a knife charged at Israeli soldiers and was shot dead in the West Bank.
And Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian teenager and wounded seven others during clashes near the border fence in Gaza, Palestinian authorities in the enclave said.
Sheikh Wasif Al-Bakri, acting Islamic chief justice in Jerusalem, told Arab News that he had mixed feelings after Friday prayers.
“We were very happy about praying in Al-Aqsa but this joy was mixed with displeasure because of the age limit that Israel imposed,” he said.
Mahdi Abdul Hadi, founder and director of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, criticized the Israeli restriction, which violates a 2014 agreement between Jordan, Israel and the US.
“When it comes to the Israeli government there is no respect for any law or agreements,” Abdul Hadi told Arab News.
Outside the mosque, tens of thousands of Palestinians under the age of 50 lined the streets of the Old City and outside, in show of support to the mosque.
Eyewitnesses said that a high level of organization was observed as youth groups were seen ensuring order and providing water and other essentials to worshippers.
Some said that they did not want to escalate the situation, since their demands had been met, and that they knew Israel was angry and did not want to provoke it.
There were heightened tensions at the site on Thursday night, when Israeli troops shot at Palestinian youths in the Haram Al-Sharif compound because they raised the Palestinian flag and attempted to open some of the still-closed mosque gates. Israel said no police were available to man the gates, hence the closure.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that 96 people were wounded both inside the Al-Aqsa compound and in the immediate area late Thursday and early Friday morning.

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