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In streets and inside al-Aqsa, thousands offer Friday prayers amid Israeli restrictions

Friday July 28, 2017 7:09 PM, & Agencies

AL Aqsa Prayers
[Al-Aqsa is the third holiest site in Islam and the most important to Jews, who refer to it as Temple Mount. (File photo)]

Thousands of Palestinians on Friday offered afternoon prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem amid Israeli decision to restrict men under 50 from entering the holy site.

“At least 10,000 Palestinians preformed Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for the mosque’s Waqf Council, told Anadolu Agency.

“Thousands of others prayed in the streets around the Old City of Jerusalem after they were prevented from entering the holy compound", he added.

Earlier in the day thousands of Palestinians marched to al-Aqsa Mosque to pray on Friday. The procession came after more than a week of protests at Israeli security measures at the holy site in the occupied East Jerusalem.

Last Friday, Muslims refused to enter the mosque and prayed in the streets surrounding the mosque compound in protest at the installation of metal detectors and other restrictions put in place after two Israeli police officers and three Arab-Israelis were killed.

Al-Aqsa is the third holiest site in Islam and the most important to Jews, who refer to it as Temple Mount.

Meanwhile, a 25-year-old protester has succumbed to his wounds, becoming the fifth Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces and settlers in two weeks of violence as tension mounts over discriminatory restrictions at al-Aqsa Mosque, according to Al Jazeera.

Muhammad Kanan, who had been shot in the head three days earlier, died late on Thursday in a hospital in the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

Kanan had joined thousands of Palestinians in the streets to rally against extra restrictions at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque compound, protesting in Hizma, his hometown near Jerusalem.

Israeli soldiers and police cracked down on extended protests on Friday.

Police announced for the second week running a ban on men under the age on 50 attending the holy site, and closed several gates to the compound.

That announcement came hours ahead of Friday prayers, when thousands of Muslims typically worship in congregation at al-Aqsa Mosque.

Police fired water cannon and tear gas at protesters in Bethlehem, and there was a high police presence close to al-Aqsa compound.

"We were barred from entering al-Aqsa," Salim abu Hani told Al Jazeera. "We came from Beersheba to pray. We will pray in the street; there is no other way."

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