Muslims aged above 50 allowed to pray at Al Aqsa

Reuters . Jerusalem / New Age Online

Muslim worshippers over the age of 50 returned to pray at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday, a day after Israeli authorities shut down all access to the sacred compound following violence in East Jerusalem.
The Muslim quarter of the Old City was calm early in the day, the Muslim holy day, and police said pre-dawn prayers had passed off without incident. However, security was tight ahead of midday prayers, when more people were expected to attend.
Israeli border police increased their presence in the cobblestone alleyways of the Old City and around the Muslim access points or gates into the Al Aqsa compound, checking identification papers closely.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described the closure of Al Aqsa as ‘tantamount to a declaration of war’ by Israel.
His Fatah party and Hamas had called for a ‘day of rage’ in Jerusalem to protest at the closure of the holy site that was partially reopened late on Thursday. Rainfall in Jerusalem, the first in weeks, looked likely to dampen any protests.
Locals said it was the first time Al Aqsa had been closed to all visitors – Muslims, Jews and tourists – since 2000, when the second Intifada or Palestinian uprising began. But Jordanian religious authorities said it was first full closure since 1967.
Israel police frequently limit access to Al Aqsa to women and Muslim men over the age of 40 or 50 when they are concerned about potential clashes at the site. It was not clear when the compound would be reopened to all Muslim worshippers.
‘I normally go five times a day to pray, but the police are not letting me today,’ said Ahmed Abu Zaaror, 21, who runs a fruitstand in the Muslim quarter of the Old City. Asked if he was angry at the situation he said: ‘What can I say? I have to keep all my anger inside.’

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