Israeli police allowed only men over the age of 50 and women of all ages inside the compound. Men under 50 have been barred from Friday prayers at the Mosque since July 14 killings in the compound and subsequent restrictions.

Israel says the measures were taken to prevent and respond to any outbreak of violence.
Israel says the measures were taken to prevent and respond to any outbreak of violence.

The main prayer session at Al Aqsa mosque ended more quietly than expected with Israel setting an age limit on who could attend after two weeks of violent protests over tougher Israeli restrictions.

Extra Israeli forces stood guard throughout the walled Old City, some wearing riot gear, some on horseback, in anticipation of mass protests. But aside from a few hotspots where Palestinian protesters briefly clashed with Israeli forces, serious violence did not recur.

Israeli police barred men under 50 from Friday Muslim prayers at the mosque a day after Palestinians ended a boycott of the compound.

Throughout the day Israeli forces limited entry to the mosque compound, a raised marble-and-stone plaza referred to by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount, to men over the age of 50. Women of all ages were allowed in.

"Only men over the age of 50 will be permitted and women of all ages are permitted. A number of roads around the Old City will be limited to access and all necessary security measures are being taken to prevent and to respond to any outbreak of violence," Israeli police statement said earlier.

Throughout the day Israeli forces limited entry to the mosque compound to men over the age of 50.
Throughout the day Israeli forces limited entry to the mosque compound to men over the age of 50.

Palestinians returned to pray at Al Aqsa Mosque from Thursday afternoon after Israeli authorities removed restrictions that had sparked deadly unrest.

Israel installed metal detectors, cameras and other measures following a July 14 attack in which two Israeli policemen were shot dead.

But through these steps, Israel was materially changing the sensitive status quo in the area, which has governed movement and religious practice for decades.

TRT World spoke to Nour Abu Assab, who teaches Jerusalem Studies at Al Aqsa Mosque, about the current mood amongst the Palestinians.

Palestinian shot dead in West Bank

On Friday, the Israeli army said it killed a Palestinian man who allegedly tried to stage a stabbing attack in the Occupied West bank.

The Palestinian was shot north of Hebron with Israeli army claiming that the man attempted an attack at Gush Etzion junction in the afternoon.

Earlier, a Palestinian died of his wounds on Thursday night, days after he was shot in the head by Israeli forces.

Mohamad Kanaan, 25, was shot on Monday near Jerusalem during clashes with Israeli forces.

Days of violent protests have resulted in the death of six Palestinians and three Israelis.

Israel risking religious war

The Arab League said on Thursday that Israel is risking a religious war.

"Jerusalem is a red line and we do not allow anyone to cross it. The occupation has no sovereignty over Al Aqsa holy site and no one in the world admits Israel's rule there," said the League's secretary general Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

"Israel is playing with fire when it attempts to control Al Aqsa mosque and that will only ignite a religious war and shift the core of the conflict from politics to religion."

Old dispute

Israel captured Occupied East Jerusalem, including the Old City and the holy compound, in the 1967 Middle East war. It annexed the area in a move that has never been recognised internationally.

Al Aqsa mosque, Islam's third-holiest shrine, sits on a tree-lined marble plateau in the heart of the Old City. It is also the holiest place in Judaism – the venue of two ancient temples, the last destroyed by the Romans. Jews pray at the Western Wall at the foot of the elevated plaza.

The dispute, like many in the Holy Land, is about more than security devices, taking in issues of sovereignty, religious freedom, occupation and Palestinian nationalism.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies