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Police deploy in force after Jerusalem clashes

Police massed in Jerusalem's Old City on Monday following clashes with Palestinians near the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and as tens of thousands of Jews were expected to attend a religious ceremony.

world Updated: Oct 05, 2009 13:01 IST

Police massed in Jerusalem's Old City on Monday following clashes with Palestinians near the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and as tens of thousands of Jews were expected to attend a religious ceremony.

Authorities restricted access to the compound to Muslim men aged 50 and over, with no restrictions for women, following Sunday's clashes in which seven Palestinian protesters were injured and three arrested.

Thousands of security officers were deployed in and around the Old City, particularly in the vicinity of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which is holy to both Muslims and Jews, and the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, the main Jewish pilgrimage site.

"These measures were taken to avert new incidents on the compound and the Old City and to prevent stones being thrown at the Jewish faithful who come to pray at the Western Wall," said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

Sunday's clashes erupted after Israeli authorities closed the mosque compound and 150 to 200 people gathered to pray outside the Lion's Gate, which leads into the compound.

The clashes broke out shortly after the prayers, with worshippers throwing stones and security forces using stun grenades and firing a water cannon.

Rumours had earlier swept through the Old City that Israeli authorities were going to allow Jewish settlers to enter the compound during the current Jewish festival of Sukkot.

Tens of thousands of Jewish worshippers were expected at the Western Wall, below the compound, on Monday for the Priestly Blessing ceremony as part of Sukkot celebrations.