AFP — Israeli police said they do not plan to bar young Muslim worshipers from Friday prayers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, despite a week of spiraling violence in the city including a Palestinian terror attack on a synagogue.
It would be the second week running that the restrictions were lifted at the flashpoint Temple Mount compound after months of limited entry.
“So far, restrictions on entry of worshippers will not be imposed,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement late Thursday.
She said the situation would be kept under review overnight in case a change became necessary.
Israel eased restrictions at Temple Mount last week after US Secretary of State John Kerry announced agreement on steps to reduce tensions in talks in neighboring Jordan, which has custodial rights at the compound.
The site, which is holy to Jews as well as Muslims, has been the focus of months of unrest in East Jerusalem, that has spread to the West Bank and Arab communities across Israel, and raised fears of a new Palestinian uprising.
Clashes at the compound are usually led by younger Palestinian men, some of whom earlier this month hurled rocks and firecrackers at police who entered the compound and chased them to the entrance of the mosque.
In recent weeks, police have tried to preempt unrest by limiting male entry to those over 35 and in the past have barred those under 50.
Police said Thursday they had arrested five Arab-Israelis on suspicion of smuggling into Israel thousands of fireworks, knives and other weapons destined for Palestinians in east Jerusalem.
They said that two containers which arrived by sea from China were marked “Christmas decorations” for delivery to the Beit Hanina neighborhood.
On Tuesday, two Palestinian cousins from East Jerusalem stormed into a synagogue in west Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood, armed with a gun and axes. They killed four Jews at prayer and a Druze traffic cop who tried to stop them before they were shot dead.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.