Israel keeps tight curbs on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa holy site

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Israeli security forces stopped young Palestinians from reaching Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, requiring them to say Muslim prayers outside Jerusalem’s Old City, before letting several thousand elder worshipers enter under continued tight curbs.

The authority in charge, the Jerusalem Islamic Endowments Department, said 5,000 worshipers performed Friday prayers at the holy site. That compares to about 50,000 on average prior to Hamas militants’ October 7 attacks on Israel.

Large numbers of Israeli police kept guard around Al-Aqsa on a hill known to Jews as Har ha-Bayit or Temple Mount and to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif or The Noble Sanctuary.

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Muslims regard the site as the third holiest in Islam.

Israel captured the area in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it with the rest of East Jerusalem and adjoining parts of the West Bank in a move not recognized internationally.

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