Israel on Friday barred access of Muslim men under 50 to Al-Aqsa mosque compound and deployed about 3,000 policemen near the site amidst expected protests over security measures.
The move came after Israel’s cabinet decided not to remove the metal detectors installed at the entrances to the Haram al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, following a shooting attack nearby a week ago that killed two policemen.
The site is open for women of all ages and for men over the age of 50, Xinhua news agency quoted a police spokesperson as saying.
The spokesperson said that following assessments, “heightened security measures will take place in and around the Old City (of East Jerusalem).
“Police and border police units mobilized in all areas and neighbourhoods and will respond to any incidents or disturbances throughout the day.
“Police are coordinating to enable Friday prayers to take place and at the same time secure measures are taking place,” an official statement read.
The measure was expected to trigger more anger at the volatile site.
The military and police boosted their presence with five Army brigades that were put on call and 3,000 officers deployed outside the compound area.
The contested electronic gates were installed after three Arab citizens of Israel carried out a shooting attack last week, killing two Israeli policemen. The assailants were shot dead by the police.
Worshippers have been refusing to enter due to the new metal detectors, with Palestinians charging the step was an Israeli attempt to claim further control over the site.
The measures have sparked daily clashes between worshippers and police, with dozens of Palestinian injuries.
The Palestinians, as well as some Arab countries, urged Israel to remove the gates, saying it was a violation of the long-held status quo under which the Muslim Waqf is in charge of running the site.