Israeli police intimidate Palestinian worshipers

Israeli police beef up presence for Ramadan prayers in occupied Arab Jerusalem.

JERUSALEM – Israel beefed up its police deployments in occupied Arab Jerusalem as tens of thousands of Muslim faithful were expected to attend the first Friday prayers of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City. “We have deployed thousands of police officers in readiness for any eventuality but have not received any specific warning about threats of violence,” said police spokesman Shmulik Ben Ruby.

Israel, which illegally controls Jerusalem, has eased restrictions for the duration of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan access to the mosque for Palestinians from the occupied West Bank.

Men over 50 and women over 45 have free access to the mosque compound, and those aged 30 to 45 can join them if they obtain a special permit issued by Israeli military authorities.

The compound is known as Al-Haram Al-Sharif to Muslims and is Islam’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina. Jews refer to the same area as the Temple Mount, the location of the Second Jewish Temple razed by the Romans in 70 AD and Judaism’s holiest site.

Israel occupied Jerusalem during the 1967 war that it initiated against its neighbours.

Israel’s occupation and subsequent annexation of the city was condemned by the international community (which also called on Israel to withdraw its troops from the city).

Palestinians, the original inhabitants of the land, have repeatedly demanded that Israel give them back the eastern part of the city.

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