08/20/2010, 00.00
ISRAEL - PALESTINE

A quiet Ramadan on Temple Mount

Two thousand police officers deployed, but no tension so far. Easier access to permits from the West Bank and Gaza. The army asked not to smoke, drink or eat in public during the fasting month. Two thousand more cubic meters of water for Bethlehem, where there has been a shortage for months.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) - For the second Friday of Ramadan, Israeli police deployed 2,000 soldiers in East Jerusalem to prevent possible unrest during the Friday prayers. The same thing happened last week. Police have confirmed they do not expect "particular disorder."

Last Friday, the first of the Muslim holy month, tens of thousands of people gathered for prayer on Temple Mount, overlooking the Wailing Wall. After prayers, the crowd dispersed without incident, but under heavy Israeli police surveillance. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and other Islamic authorities have, however, criticized Israel because it has not allowed thousands of young Muslim men access into the holy city and holy site.

During the month of Ramadan, the army has eased access to mosques, where Al-Aqsa Mosque is found, considered the third most important place in Islam, after those of Mecca and Medina.

Usually Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem are excluded from visiting the holy place without permits, which are difficult to obtain. During the holy month, Muslims, males over 50 and women over 45 can go to the Temple Mount to pray without permits. Some gates into Israel have extended opening hours and the military personnel have been warned against of eating, smoking or drinking in public during Ramadan.

For this month, the Israeli administration has agreed to provide the city of Bethlehem a surplus of 2 thousand cubic meters of water per day. For months, Bethlehem has suffered from water shortages and people have been forced to pay for water to fill the tanks on the roofs of their homes

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