Hundreds of Palestinian youths performed Friday prayers on the streets outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound after Israeli police barred Muslim worshippers from entering the holy site.
Hundreds of Israeli policemen were deployed in the vicinity of the compound, erecting barricades at the entries of the Old City of Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem) and denying access to people under 50, an Anadolu Agency reporter at the scene said.
Earlier in the day, Israeli police said they would only allow men over 50 and holders of blue ID cards (issued to residents of Al-Quds and Israel) into the compound, Israeli Channel 7 reported.
Israeli police said the decision had followed an intelligence tipoff that Palestinians were planning to stage demonstrations following prayers.
On Thursday, Palestinians marked Palestinian Prisoners' Day, which is commemorated by Palestinians on April 17 of every year to demand the release of nearly 5000 prisoners long-detained by Israel.
Tension has mounted in Al-Quds over recent threats to Al-Aqsa by extremist Jewish groups, which have called on supporters to force their way into the holy compound during the current Jewish Passover holiday (April 14 to 22).
On Wednesday, clashes broke out at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound after Israeli security personnel stormed the holy site in an apparent bid to disperse Palestinians who have been camped out there for days.
In recent months, groups of extremist Jewish settlers, often accompanied by Israeli security forces, have repeatedly forced their way into the Al-Aqsa complex. The frequent violations anger Palestinian Muslims and occasionally lead to violent confrontations.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied Al-Quds during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state.
By Abdel-Raouf Arnaout
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