Heightened security as thousands pray at Al-Aqsa

PNN/Jerusalem/

Thousands of Palestinians visited Jerusalem today for the fourth Friday prayers during the holy month of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, amid tightening Israeli security measures and restrictions on travel permits. 

The Israeli army deployed hundreds of soldiers at military checkpoints in Palestinian towns of the West Bank. The Israeli police allowed men over the age of 50 years as well as women over 30 years of age to enter without permits.

The Israeli government announced Thursday evening that they would be imposing restrictions on the entry of worshipers from the West Bank into Jerusalem for the fourth Friday prayer at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to a statement made by the Israeli police, women must be between 16 and 30 years of age to obtain a permit to pray at the Haram al-Sharif on Friday, and this measure applies as well to men between the ages of 30 and 50. Children under the age of 12 were allowed to accompany their parents without a permit, like men over 50 years and women older than 30 years.

The statement added that girls under the age of 16 would be allowed to enter Jerusalem without a permit, whereas boys from the age of 12 to 30 are not to be allowed entry at all. Holders of blue identity cards would not be affected by these restrictions.

The Israeli police statement confirmed that thousands of troops have been deployed in East Jerusalem with the pretext of ‘securing the conduct of prayer’. The Israeli police said ‘We will continue to place strict actions against any one who tries to harm the public safety of others.’