Bethlehem checkpoint 248.88.
(photo credit: )
Some 90,000 Muslims attended Ramadan prayers at the Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount on Friday, as thousands of policemen were deployed in a bid to ward off the anti-Israel riots that developed in the past.
Five Arabs were arrested for disturbances ahead of the prayers, including a man from Issawiya who allegedly attacked a police officer who tried to search him at the Lion's Gate. The policeman was lightly wounded in the incident.
The security establishment loosened restrictions governing who could enter Jerusalem from the West Bank to allow Palestinian men over 50 and women over 45 to enter, as well as Palestinians with special permits.
Under the usual Israeli restrictions, only Palestinians with permits are allowed to enter Jerusalem from the West Bank.
However, many Palestinians seemed to be unaware of the restrictions. At West Bank checkpoints, tour buses brought hundreds of Palestinians hoping to attend the prayers, but many were turned away.
The restrictions did not apply to Arabs who live in east Jerusalem, who hold Israeli residency rights, or Muslim citizens of Israel, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen stressed that police, particularly those in Jerusalem, were making maximum efforts to enable religious freedom for Muslims wishing to visit the Temple Mount.
He added that the Jerusalem District Police currently had a lot to deal with, with the Temple Mount prayers and haredi riots against the opening of the Carta parking lot on Shabbat.
Regarding the latter, Cohen said police were acting with restraint.