Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Israeli government reopened the Temple Mount, after closing it on Wednesday following the shooting of a Jewish right-wing hardliner. Seriously wounded, the latter is on a life-support machine in a Jerusalem hospital.
Owing to fears of unrest at midday prayers, Israeli authorities restricted entry for Muslim men to the Esplanade of the Mosques to those over 50.
Today, ahead of Friday prayers, at least 3,000 police officers were deployed in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in the heart of Old City, three times more than usual.
Meanwhile the Palestinian suspected of wounding Rabbi Yehuda Glick, head of theTemple Mount and Eretz Yisrael Faithful movement, was buried in East Jerusalem. The service, which was attended by hundreds of people, went off without incidents.
The latest episode follows escalating tensions between Israel and Palestine with each side accusing the other. The pattern is the same: Israeli police fire tear gas against Palestinians throwing stones, with deaths and injuries as the consequence.
Reacting to the closure of the Temple Mount, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas expressed outrage, calling it a "declaration of war". The last time this was done dates back to 2000 when Ariel Sharon's stroll triggered the second intifada.
For its part, Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement called for 'Day of Rage' this Friday in Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank, in response to the killing of Muataz Hijazi, the man who allegedly shot Rabbi Glick. Protest marches and demonstrations were expected following Friday prayers.
In one of the most important holy places of the earth, revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians, attempts at coexistence among religions are wearing thin.
For years, Rabbi Glick has targeted the Temple Mount as a place to "reconquer". Jewish extremists would like to build a new temple on the ruins of the mosques and have increasingly expressed a desire to have access to the site to pray, something that is currently prohibited.
The site remains one of the most sacred places for Muslims because this is where, according to tradition, Muhammad ascended to heaven from the rock at the top of the mountain.
The site is also dear to Christians because of the many visits Jesus made to the temple.