Israel may Allow West Bank Residents into Jerusalem For Friday Prayers
Israel is considering allowing Muslims from the West Bank to pray at a holy site in occupied east Jerusalem for the second Friday prayers of Ramadan, in a gesture to ease blockade restrictions, police said.
"Of course there is discussion going on, we may know later in the day," a spokeswoman for Jerusalem police told AFP Thursday.
Last Friday, police deployed 3,000 police in the eastern party of the city as tens of thousands of Muslims poured into the Old City's al-Aqsa mosque compound for the first major prayers of the holy month of Ramadan.
Only Jerusalem residents and Muslims with Israeli citizenship were permitted to enter al-Aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam. Thousands of frustrated worshippers from the West Bank were turned away.
Police had braced for potential unrest, but relative calm prevailed.
The Muslim shrine, built on the vestiges of the second temple, Judaism's holiest site, was the scene of clashes after a provocative visit there by Israel's hawkish opposition leader Ariel Sharon on September 28.
The violence unleashed an Intifada, or uprising, against the Israelis which has since claimed more than 300 lives, most of them Palestinians.
A blockade on the Palestinian territories by Israel has been in place virtually since the unrest began.
At varying times since the violence erupted, Israel has only allowed women, and men over 35 to 45 years old, to enter the compound – JERUSALEM (AFP)
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