Israel restricts access to Al-Aqsa mosque
Israel yesterday curbed travel from the West Bank and access to the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as Jews celebrate the week-long Passover holiday amid heightened tension with the Palestinians.
The Holy City has been rocked in past weeks by the worst unrest in years, triggered largely by rumours that a rebuilt 17th-century synagogue was part of a plan by Jewish extremists to destroy the famed Al-Aqsa mosque.
An announcement of plans to expand settlement construction in Jerusalem has further fuelled the tension while also angering the US administration and casting doubts over proposed peace talks.
Police said that Muslim men under the age of 50 and all non-Muslims are barred from entering the compound -- which is sacred to both Muslims and Jews. Police did not say when the restrictions would be lifted.
Authorities have also tightened restrictions on access to Israel from the occupied West Bank, closing checkpoints to general traffic, with exceptions for medical cases, humanitarian aid, and professionals and students with permits.