Israeli police deploy in force for Ramadan

Published today (updated) 05/08/2011 10:38

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israeli police deployed in force in Jerusalem’s Old City after limiting access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound ahead of the first Friday prayers during Ramadan.

“More than 2,000 police and border guards were deployed in Jerusalem,” said a police spokesman, adding access was blocked to the esplanade for Muslim men under the age of 45.

“Among those aged 45 to 50 years, only the fathers of families with a permanent entry permit for Israel will be allowed to go on the esplanade,” he said.

Access to the complex was also denied for West Bank Palestinians under the age of 35, the spokesman said, adding the measures were imposed as a precaution due to the risk of violence.

The Israeli army also closed Qalandiya checkpoint, near Ramallah, from Thursday evening at 9.00 p.m. until Friday evening, with only pedestrians allowed to cross.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and strive to be more pious and charitable.

The Al-Aqsa compound, containing the mosque and the Dome of the Rock, is the third holiest site in Islam after Saudi Arabia’s Mecca and Medina, and abuts the site where Jews believe the ancient Second Temple stood.

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