Jerusalem on alert as religious tensions rise over sensitive holy site
MIDDLE EAST: Israel bolstered security in the Old City of Jerusalem yesterday and prepared for possible clashes with Muslim worshippers after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided metal detectors at a sensitive holy site would not be removed.
There have been daily confrontations between Palestinians hurling rocks and Israeli police using stun grenades since the detectors were placed at the entrance to the shrine, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, on Sunday, after the killing of two Israeli policemen.
Muslim leaders and Palestinian political factions have urged the faithful to gather for a ‘‘day of rage’’ against the new security policies, which they see as changing delicate agreements that have governed the holy site for decades.
The Israeli police said extra units had been mobilised to bolster security in the Old City, while Muslim access to the shrine for prayers would be limited to women of all ages and men over 50. Roadblocks were in place on approach roads to Jerusalem to stop buses carrying Muslims to the site.
The Noble Sanctuary-Temple Mount compound has long been a source of religious friction. Since Israel captured the Old City in the 1967 Middle East war, it has also become a symbol of Palestinian nationalism. – Reuters