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Israeli forces impose restrictions on Palestinians at Al-Aqsa following sit-in protest

March 24, 2017 8:17 P.M. (Updated: March 28, 2017 4:05 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces imposed heightened movement restrictions at the gates of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem after a sit-in was organized at the site following Friday prayers demanding the release of slain Palestinians' bodies withheld by the Israeli state.

Head of media and public relations for the Islamic Endowment (Waqf) Firas al-Dibs said that Israeli forces raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, while soldiers deployed at the gates of the holy site banned Palestinians from entering the area after the Dhuhur (afternoon) prayer. 

Al-Dibs added that Israeli forces also searched all Palestinian youth “in a provocative manner” as they exited the compound following prayers and the subsequent sit-in. 

Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli forces stationed at the gate also detained an unspecified number of Palestinians and transported them to Israeli interrogation centers. 

An Israeli police spokesperson was not available for comment. 

The Israeli Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday not to release the bodies of Palestinians still held in Israeli morgues to their families for burial, while the court also rejected a petition by the Israeli prosecution to bury to slain Palestinians in a so-called cemetery of numbers.

The court's ruling came in response to a decision by Israel’s security cabinet in January that the bodies of Palestinians allegedly affiliated with the Hamas movement would not be returned to their families and instead be buried in such a cemetery, as Israel considers the bodies to be a bargaining chip that could be used in a future exchange deal with Hamas, the de facto ruling party of the besieged Gaza Strip, where the bodies of two Israeli soldiers are believed to be held.

Israeli restrictions at Al-Aqsa also came after the Jordanian Waqf Minister Wael Arabiyat said that the Jordanian government, which acts as custodian of the mosque's compound, decided to increase the number of employees in Jerusalem's Waqf department.

Arabiyat said Wednesday that the Jordanian government appointed 200 new employees to the department, increasing the total number of employees to 1,000.

The Jordanian minister said that "financial incentives" would be provided to Waqf employees for their efforts in protecting holy sites in the city and in strengthening Palestinian determination in Jerusalem. 
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