Israel reopens Al-Aqsa mosque compound

2014-10-30 20:24
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man stands in front of the Dome of the Rock during a visit by a group of religious Jews to the Al-Aqsa mosques compound under Israeli police protection in Jerusalem's Old City. (Ahmad Gharabli, AFP)

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man stands in front of the Dome of the Rock during a visit by a group of religious Jews to the Al-Aqsa mosques compound under Israeli police protection in Jerusalem's Old City. (Ahmad Gharabli, AFP)

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Jerusalem - Israel decided on Thursday evening to reopen Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound to Muslims hours after ordering its closure and following Arab and US calls for Muslim worshippers to be allowed in.

"It was decided to restore [the compound] to normal... effective immediately," police spokesperson Luba Samri told AFP, adding that because of a fear of unrest at Friday midday prayers, entry for Muslim men would be restricted to those over 50.

There would be no restrictions on Muslim women, she said.

Non-Muslims are routinely not allowed access on Fridays.

Samri said the decision was subject to security developments.

Israel had earlier said its closure of Islam's third holiest site, which is also sacred to Jews, was temporary and aimed at calming tempers after police shot dead a Palestinian accused of trying to kill a far-right Jewish activist.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said the unprecedented closure was tantamount to a "declaration of war" and Sunni Islam's top institution, Al-Azhar, in Cairo, called it "barbaric".

The United States urged that the mosque compound be reopened to Muslim worshippers, and called on all sides to exercise restraint amid spiralling tensions in Jerusalem.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki also condemned the shooting of hardline rabbi Yehuda Glick, who is an Israeli-US dual national.

Read more on:    israel  |  religion

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