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Tuesday, August 10, 2010 11:39:38 AM, News Desk

A Palestinian buys olives at a market in Gaza City on Monday as Muslims prepare for the holy month of Ramadan. After partially relaxing its blockade against Palestinians in Gaza, allowing shops to fill with special items for the occasion, Israel is now saying it will restrict the entry of Palestinian worshipers from the West Bank into Jerusalem for Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

(Photo: Reuters)

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Malegaon: Israeli police announced Monday that it will restrict the entry of Palestinian worshipers from the West Bank into Jerusalem for Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, which begins later this week, reports Arab News Correspondent Mohammad Mar'i from Ramallah.

The police said in a statement that it decided to permit men aged 50 and over and women aged 45 and over to enter Jerusalem without a special permit.

Men aged between 45 and 50 need to have special permission to enter the city. The decision also means that men below the age of 45 will not be permitted to enter Jerusalem for prayers.

Arab Palestinians inside Israel and those living in East Jerusalem do not face restrictions when visiting the mosque compound, the place where the Palestinian uprising began in 2000.

Since then, Palestinians from the West Bank have had an increasingly difficult time entering Jerusalem. With occasional exceptions, Palestinians from the Gaza Strip cannot obtain permission to visit the city.

Israeli restrictions in the last few years have led to scuffles between thousands of West Bank worshipers and Israeli forces after they were turned back at the Qalandiah, Al-Aizariyah and “Rachel” checkpoints at the edge of the city.

Israel insists that the restrictions are necessary to restore a state of calm at the site.

The country captured East Jerusalem during the June 1967 War, annexed it, and has since built settlements there that are home to more than 200,000 Israelis.

Control over the city has been seen as the most sensitive and thorniest issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinians hope to make East Jerusalem the capital of their future state. Israel says the city is its eternal capital.

The director of the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights (JCSER), Ziad Hammouri, said Israel intends to deport over 20,000 Palestinians out of Jerusalem. Israeli authorities allegedly claimed they do not have legal residency to stay in the city.

He added that the new procedure targets West Bank citizens who live in Jerusalem and possessed property and assets even before Israel occupied the city in the war.

"It's an Israeli demographic war against the Arab presence in Jerusalem," said Hammouri.

He added that the situation started two years ago when the Israeli Interior Ministry asked West Bank citizens who live with Jerusalemite wives in the holy city to apply for temporary residence permits.



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