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Israel bars worshipers from reaching Al-Aqsa

Source : Mohammed Mar`i | Arab News
RAMALLAH | 13 May 2011

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine Sheikh Mohammed Hussein said that the Israeli police prevented thousands of Palestinian worshipers from attending the Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Hussein said that the Jerusalem police allowed Palestinian men over the age of 50 carrying Israeli identity card to enter the Muslims’ third holiest shrine for the prayer. He added that the women’s entry was not limited. The Israeli police confirmed the move.

He added that the Israeli police arrested thirteen Palestinian youths who tried to enter Jerusalem’s Old City.

Palestinian sources said that three residents of Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem were arrested on suspicion of hurling stones at Israeli Border Guard and police forces after the prayers. The clashes were mainly centered around Silwan neighborhood.

Shmulik Ben Rubi, Jerusalem district police spokesman, said that only 8,000 worshipers held prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

He added that the restriction of worshipers’ entry into the complex came to thwart any disturbances in the city which may break out in support of Nakba Day which will be marked on Sunday. The Nakba means “catastrophe” and it is the Palestinian term for Israel’s establishment. Israel celebrated the 63rd anniversary of its creation on Tuesday, in accordance with the Hebrew calendar.

Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said that the “the situation was under complete control and everything is being done to keep it so.”

“The police is prepared for any unusual event during the coming weekend,” Danino said.

The Nakba is considered to be the biggest catastrophe for Palestinians in modern history; the immediate consequences of the Nakba was the occupation, by Israel, of more than three quarters of historic Palestine and the expulsion of more than 85 percent of the population.

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said that more than 800,000 out of 1.4 million Palestinians, who were living in the 1948 territories, were driven out of their homeland to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, neighboring Arab countries and other countries of the world. PCBS said that they and their descendants number 4.8 million today.

Israeli governments have refused to allow the Palestinian refugees to return to the 1948 territories for fear that a massive influx would threaten the Jewish majority in Israel, which now counts some 5.8 million Jewish citizens.


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