Palestinians return to pray at al-Aqsa, but tensions remains high

Israel removes all the security measures imposed two weeks ago. Some skirmishes with the police. Other violence is feared today. Netanyahu: "Time to consider the death penalty for terrorists."

Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Palestinians have returned to praying on the Esplanade of Mosques after nearly two weeks: they did not enter the third most sacred place of Islam in protest at security measures imposed by Israel after the July 14 attack that killed two Israeli policemen.

Yesterday, the Israeli authorities dismantled all the facilities and cameras installed after the attack to the celebration and cheers of thousands of Palestinians.

However, tensions remain high: even one hour after the return of thousands of faithful to the Esplanade, other clashes with the police broke out, and more than 100 Palestinians were injured due to rubber-coated bullets, tear gas inhalations, blows and pepper spray.

According to Israeli police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld,some Palestinians threw stones at the Wailing Wall. The security forces intervened "to clear the area and prevent injured".

Omar Kiswani, director of the al-Aqsa mosque, fears further violence today, defining Israeli repression on the faithful as a worrying sign.

Today, on Friday, thousands of people are expected for Islamic prayer in the sacred place. Israel imposed a ban on entering the Esplanade for all Muslim men under the age of 50.

Within 10 days, more than 1,000 Palestinian protesters were injured in the clashes, and four killed. On the Israeli side, besides the two policemen killed on July 14, three colonists were stabbed to death. Precisely this incident provoked statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who argued "the time has come" to consider the death penalty for terrorists. Although Israeli law provides for the possibility of condemnation to death, this punishment was only enforced in the case of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1962.