Palestinians express concern as Israel starts demolishing works near Aqsa Mosque
Israel has imposed restrictions on access to Islam's third holiest site for fear of demonstrations against building work near Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
"Only Muslim men who are married, over 45 years old, and who have a blue Israeli identity card, in addition to all Muslim women, will have access to the Temple Mount on Sunday," police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told AFP. "On their side, Jews and tourists will also not be allowed to visit the site."
Muslim leaders have called for protests against planned work on the nearby Dung Gate to the Old City that they say threatens the foundations of the mosque compound. The Palestinians claim Israel is to start demolishing two rooms in al Aqsa Mosque and the Maghareba gate road, which is one of the Mosque's historical gates, in line with the Israeli plan "to demolish the entire holy shrine and build the alleged temple in its place."
Sheikh Ra'ed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in the Palestinian lands occupied in 1948, had revealed the Israeli scheme two days ago and provided the press with documents and maps to support his disclosure. According to him, flattening the two rooms beneath the western wall of the Aqsa would make the Buraq Mosque there open before possible aggressors.
Palestinian sources said hundreds of Palestinians have arrived to the Mosque and prepared themselves to block Israeli plans to destroy parts of it. Local eyewitnesses affirmed that thousands of Israeli troops were deployed in and around the the Aqsa Mosque compound, and blocked tens of Palestinian buses heading to it over security concerns.