Hundreds of additional police officers deployed in Jerusalem on Friday following Palestinian calls for protests after the midday Muslim prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.
The protests follow Wednesday’s announcement by US President Donald Trump that the US recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“Several hundred additional police and border police have been deployed inside and in the vicinity of the Old City,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Friday.
Extra police units mobilized in & around #Jerusalem&old city. No age restrictions on TM. Police prepared to respond to protests if necessary
— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) December 8, 2017
The situation was calm early Friday in Jerusalem’s Old City, site of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third-holiest site in Islam and where thousands typically attend the main weekly prayers. The mosque and the Dome of the Rock shrine sit on the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif.
Despite the heightened alert, police did not impose any restrictions on Muslim worshipers praying on the flashpoint site. At times of expected violence, Israeli authorities sometimes limit access to the site for young men.
Palestinian terror group Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, called for a “day of rage” on Friday and protests were expected over Trump’s announcement.
Demonstrations in solidarity were also expected across the Middle East and many Muslim nations, including Jordan and Turkey. In Malaysia, more than 1,000 Muslims protested outside the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
The IDF also deployed hundreds of troops to reinforce security forces in the West Bank.
In light of a “situational assessment by the IDF General Staff,” the IDF army said on Thursday it had “decided that a number of battalions will reinforce the area of [the West Bank], as well as combat intelligence and territorial defense units.”
Security assessments expected tens of thousands to take part in the Friday protests and the IDF was particularly concerned that “lone wolf” attackers could try to carry out terror attacks, the Ynet news site reported.
Soldiers were stationed at potential confrontation points during the day and were later to deploy to prevent any attempts to carry out attacks on settlements over the Sabbath, the report said.
Trump’s speech Wednesday was welcomed by Israel but sparked outrage among the Palestinians, and there were protests across the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip on Thursday.
At various locations around the West Bank and Gaza, hundreds of Palestinians held demonstrations against the move, setting fires, chanting and clashing with troops. Demonstrators also burned posters of Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as Israeli and American flags.
Dozens of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were reported injured, mostly from tear gas inhalation and rubber bullets, but also some reportedly from live rounds. There were no reports of serious injuries.
In a Wednesday address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality. The move was hailed by Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.