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Israel restricts Al-Aqsa access

Dec. 2, 2010 9:14 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 3, 2010 12:26 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces closed most gates leading into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound Thursday morning, leaving only two open.

All worshipers under 40 years old were barred by Israeli police from entering the compound, and prayed together in the streets adjacent to the Haram Ash-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) which houses the mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

The action came following the entry of an estimated 55 religious Jews into the mosque compound shortly after 8 a.m., witnesses said. The group was accompanied by more than a dozen Israeli guards.

Officials said the group of Jews were making a tour of the area on the occasion of the start of the second day of Hanukkah.

Tensions rose when the group entered the Muslim holy site, with more than a dozen elderly worshipers yelling prayers to god for the safety of the mosque, at which police threatened to have them removed from the compound.

Officials from the Al-Aqsa Institute said they documented the invasion and threats against worshipers but had their photography equipment confiscated by Israeli forces.

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